Why rate of deaths from HIV-related diseases is falling in Nigeria – Health Minister

The Minister of Health Prof Isaac Adewole has highlighted the decrease in the rate of Nigerians dying from HIV-related diseases to increased awareness of their HIV status and use of drugs.

Adewole said, “Many people are beginning to know their status and having access to HIV care and treatment, due to this, HIV-related deaths are being averted. However, there are still some real challenges like therapy adherence and retention in care with attending issues, like HIV drug resistance, acquired among different population groups or ART.”

Adewole who spoke at the Joint Stakeholders Summit on Drug Resistance Monitoring, Early Infant Diagnosis and Viral Load in Lagos, which was organised by the National HIV/AIDS Control Programme (NASCP)

The minister said there were still serious issues with the management of HIV, irrespective of the commitment the government and donor partners to attain global targets.

According to him, he said that a well-coordinated programme which could involve all major implementers would help tackle the problems and only about 8.9 per cent of infants born to HIV-positive women were being tested. This is because of the difficulty being encountered with tracking babies of HIV-positive mothers who deliver outside public health facilities, the poor Dried Blood Spots (testing of infant blood sample), viral load testing sample logistic systems and weak mentorship and supportive supervision at the health facility levels among others.”

“Surmounting theses challenges would need improving the implementation of the program that will serve as good practice for other nations”, he stated.

However, a senior virologist, Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria, Dr Nicaise  Ndembi, stated that there was this need to create surveys to provide evidence-driven interventions.

Ndembi said the country lacked the data which showed the problem of resistance.

Consultant in Public Health, Prof. Phyllis Kanki identified some of the challenges facing HIV treatment such as; high cost of laboratory test, lack of patience to treat or attend to patients.