A Professor of Medicine at the College of Health Sciences, University of Ilorin, Salami Kazeem, has said that Nigeria ranks as the third HIV/AIDS most heavily burdened country, after India and South Africa.
He added that Africa carried the global heaviest burden of HIV/AIDS; and that about 3.5 million Nigerians are currently living with the virus.
He spoke at the Unilorin’s 149th inaugural lecture on Monday, in a lecture entitled, “Realities of living with HIV.’
Kazeem said although the national median prevalence of HIV had reduced in recent years, the reality was that the number of people living with the virus had increased by almost 500,000 in three years.
He said AIDS-related deaths had also increased in the same period because Nigeria was behind target in most success indicators for HIV treatment.
He also lamented that the incidence of new infection was common among married sexual partners who are not ready to let go of each other, even long after marriages to different spouses.
He noted that among this category, condom use was low, while the risk of transmission was high.
“Some high risk groups of the society also contribute significantly to the rising rate of new infection. They are hotels and roadside female sex workers. They and their clients, together with their clients’ partners, contributed about 40 per cent of the new infections in 2010,” Kazeem said.
He, however, noted that Nigeria had done well in the control of HIV, as the country had arrested and reversed the national seroprevalence rate from 5.8 per cent to 3.4 per cent.
He urged the government to take full ownership of HIV care, noting that donor agencies would cease to dole out aids by June 2015.
He counselled state and local governments to set aside some HIV/AIDS intervention fund so that appropriate control agencies could get involved in the clinical care of PLHIV.