...20, 695 children infected in Nigeria – UNICEF
OVER 2,500 new HIV infections occur every day in Africa in the year just about to end.
World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, gave the figure in a statement to mark this year’s World AIDS Day, yesterday.
Moeti also said only 16 countries in the region have been certified for eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission, none of which had as large an epidemic, adding that it took more than two decades of hard work by leaders, health workers and communities to achieve the feat.
But she dismissed every possibility of the continent to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
According to Moeti, apart from the total toll, two out of every three new HIV infections occurred in the African region.
“Last year, two out of every three new HIV infections occurred in the African Region, corresponding to almost 2,500 new HIV infections every day. In the region, 86 per cent of people living with HIV know their status, and 76 per cent are receiving antiretroviral therapy. It has been 40 years since the first HIV cases were reported. Yet, in Africa and globally, it remains a major public health concern,” she said.
Also explaining that AIDS claimed the lives of 460 000 people (translating to 1, 300 every day) in spite of free access to effective treatment, she said the challenges notwithstanding, Africa has made significant progress against HIV in the past decade, reducing new infections by 43 per cent and nearly halving AIDS-related deaths.
In a related development, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said at least 300,000 children were newly infected with HIV in 2020.
This, it explains, translates to one child every two minutes.
A report released by UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, to commemorate World AIDS Day said another 120,000 children died from AIDS-related causes during the same period, or one child every five minutes while in Nigeria, 20,695 children aged zero to nine years were newly infected with HIV in 2020 – or one child every 30 minutes.
It will be recalled that the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day commemoration is End inequalities, end AIDS, end pandemic.