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Nigeria accounts for 2nd highest HIV/AIDS burden worldwide – NGO

The Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWAN) says Nigeria accounts for second highest HIV/AIDS burden worldwide after South Africa.

Mr Victor Omoshehin, the National Coordinator of NEPWAN, revealed this at the candlelight memorial organised by the organisation on Monday in Abuja for those that die in the course of HIV/AIDS.

He noted that Nigerians that died due to the scourge would not have died if the government had taken up ownership of the fight by ensuring availability and accesses to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and support programme.

The coordinator who noted that HIV response was largely donor driven with about 93 per cent of HIV funding sourced from external sources, however, said Nigeria only contributed seven per cent of the funding.

He described poor funding and lack of ownership of HIV treatment and care by the country as being responsible for its high prevalence in the country.

According to him, the only way to address this burden was for the Federal Government to take ownership of the fight against HIV scourge rather than relying solely on donor agencies.

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“The problem of Nigeria can never be solved by foreigners except for Nigerians and by Nigerians with adequate and realistic budget.

Budget in all AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria control, prevention and treatment for all the Ministries, MDAs could make big difference if is been released 100 per cent in the life of persons living with HIV in and lives of Nigerians who are not infected,’’ he said.

This, he said, could be achieved by dedicating adequate funding through budgetary allocation by all tiers of government for its prevention, treatment and care and implementing 100 per cent of such funds in fighting the scourge.

He described the treatment gaps in AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, control, prevention, treatment and care support services in the country as worrisome noting that this has led to the increase in HIV prevalence in the country.

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