Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis, with agency reports
The probability that Africa will achieve HIV testing and condom use targets by 2030 is only 12.1 per cent and 28.5 percent respectively, making the need for more testing and treatment a priority, a modelling study suggests.
The study, published online by HIVr4p, notes that there has been limited progress on Treatment-as-Prevention [TasP] in Africa and little prospect of reaching global targets for HIV/AIDS elimination.
According to the scientists, varying outcomes in countries at the same development level suggest inadequate resource allocation and low effectiveness of HIV/AIDS programmes.
Although some funding agencies are considering withdrawal from supporting Africa, more attention to funding and expanding testing and treatment are needed in the region, the researchers say.
The study, which was presented at the 2021 HIV Research for Prevention Conference late January, identified seven countries with downward trends in annual HIV testing.
They are Benin Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar and Sierra Leone.
The study notes that four countries comprising Chad, Madagascar, Niger and South Sudan are found to have downward trends in condom use.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS had launched ambitious targets in 2014 to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 by achieving 95 percent diagnosis and 95 percent of people with HIV taking medications against the disease.
The study estimated the likelihood of 38 African countries meeting the targets using population-based method conducted from 2003 to 2018 involving 1,456,224 sexually active adults of ages 15-49 years old.
“Although many countries have upward trends in HIV testing and condom use, the annual rate of increase is too slow, and the probabilities of reaching UNAIDS targets were very low,” says Stuart Gilmour, the study’s co-author and a professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics at St. Luke’s International University, Japan.
The study warns that the probabilities of each country reaching targets range from zero percent to 28.5 percent for HIV testing; and zero percent to 12.1 percent for condom use.
“No country showed a high probability (>50%) of meeting either target,” the study concluded.
Meanwhile, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS says Nigeria has recorded a 35 percent reduction in HIV/AIDS-related death between 2010 and 2019.
The agency also disclosed that about 13,017,097 people have been tested, counselled and received results showing their individual status.
Speaking at NACA’s 14th anniversary which held in Abuja on Monday, the agency’s Director-General, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, explained that the incidence of HIV/AIDS-related death, which was 68,600 in 2010, had dropped to 52,392 in 2019.
Aliyu said that the 35 per cent reduction in deaths of Persons Living With HIV/AIDS was a remarkable progress in the nation’s quest to protect its citizens from the infectious disease.
“More persons are being placed on treatment in Nigeria than ever before; morbidity and mortality rates are declining, thereby facilitating high population-based viral load suppression among HIV-positive persons on ART in Nigeria.
“There is an increased ownership of the response as the Federal Government has continued to make good her promise of placing 50,000 persons on treatment annually,” he said.
In 2018, the agency, with the support of her partners, had led the largest population-based HIV/AIDS survey in the world, leading to a rebasing of the HIV epidemic in Nigeria from a prevalence of 5.8 per cent to 1.4 per cent.
Despite the success of the exercise, Aliyu said, the HIV response was inundated with challenges which threatened to erode the successes achieved.
He also expressed optimism that the lessons learnt from the HIV multi-sectoral response gains, leverages on the community and HIV infrastructures as well as its resources has been instrumental to the Nigerian COVID-19 response resilience.
Recall that Aliyu had told PUNCH HealthWise in an earlier interview published on August 30 that 20,500 people died of AIDS-related causes within the first six months of 2020.
He blamed the high mortality, in part, on the lack of access to treatment and the disruption of medical services brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NACA boss had also expressed fear that the number of deaths among PLWHA might worsen if the disruption to HIV/AIDS treatment persisted for another six months.
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