President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact-Assessment Survey, saying that availability of reliable data on HIV/AIDS is crucial for effective interventions in the health sector.
In the same vein, the United States, which contributed $70m to the project, expressed support for the NAIIS, which was conducted to measure the size, distribution and determinants of Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, as well as the impact of current interventions.
Taking to its verified Twitter handle, the U.S. Mission Nigeria @USEmbassyAbuja on Monday, commended the formal unveiling of the NAIIS.
The unveiling of the NAIIS was done by President Muhammadu Buhari last Thursday in Abuja, with dignitaries from the diplomatic community, health sector, and international agencies such as the UNAIDS, WHO, etc., in attendance.
The Executive Summary of the survey, as released by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, reveals that the NAIIS measured the HIV prevalence rate (defined as the proportion of persons who tested positive for HIV) stratified on the basis of age, sex and geographic location.
It noted that data was also collected on knowledge and awareness of HIV prevention, risk behaviours predisposing to HIV infection, as well as levels of stigma and discrimination in the society.
In order to measure the impact of current interventions, the survey measured the uptake of HIV testing, care and treatment services and viral suppression (the reduction or absence of HIV in the bloodstream) among HIV-positive persons undergoing treatment.
The survey was coordinated by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS and the Federal Ministry of Health, with financial support from the United States Government and the Global Fund, it has been revealed.
A the unveiling of the survey, President Muhammadu Buhari noted that, over the last two decades, the Federal Government and its development partners had continued to expend significant resources in the fight against HIV, with less than commensurate impact on the disease burden.
“Prior to this major survey, Nigeria had the second largest HIV burden in the world and the highest number of children born with the virus,” he said.
Continuing, the President informed that the availability of accurate and reliable HIV data for the country is crucial for planning effective health interventions to arrest the HIV epidemic and ultimately rid the country of this health threat.
While expressing Nigeria’s gratitude to the United States Government, the Global Fund, the United Nations agencies and technical partners for their significant contributions towards the survey, Buhari said the NAIIS has provided the Federal Government with the crucial information needed to enable the national HIV response to move forward and plan for a more sustainable and accountable programme based on credible scientific data.
In his opening remarks, Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr. Sani Aliyu, disclosed that the Federal Government initiated the first HIV treatment programme in the country at the turn of the century when the HIV epidemic had just started to take hold.
“Since then, working with donor partners, including PEPFAR and the Global Fund, we have made tremendous progress in putting people on treatment, with almost 1.1 million Nigerians now on life-saving treatment,” Aliyu said.
He lamented that despite the huge investments made over the years to scale HIV/AIDS interventions in Nigeria, repeated surveys had failed to demonstrate significant improvement in the country’s epidemic status proportionate to our efforts.
“In fact, impact data had continued to show a widening gap between the individuals on treatment and those projected to be in need of services,” Aliyu said; disclosing that the concerns informed the agency’s decision to conduct a more scientifically robust household survey – the Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey, NAIIS; which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2018.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, in his speech at the unveiling, said that “HIV/AIDS remains a significant public health crisis that is being confronted by the world today, particularly in the African continent.”
“The disease is further complicated by socio-economic and cultural factors as well as the weak health system. To this end, its defeat requires high level political commitment, vision and leadership, quality epidemiologic data and strategic interventions,” Adewole said.
“NAIIS was planned and implemented by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with NACA, PEPFAR/US Centre for Disease Control and Global Fund.
“The Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey was conducted in a record time when compared with the conduct of similar surveys in other countries.
“In addition, it is adjudged to be the largest HIV survey ever conducted globally with a sample size of over 200,000 respondents. The survey teams visited almost every selected area in the country including security challenged areas,” Adewole said.