by Remi Oyo
(IPS) ABUJA --
is spreading at the rate of one person
per minute in Nigeria, threatening Africa's most populous nation,
according to Nigeria's Minister of Health, Timothy Menakaya.
"Over 25,000 have died of (AIDS so far)," says Menekaya. "No part of (Nigeria) is unaffected."
Menakaya, who presented Nigeria's 1999 survey on HIV/Syphilis in the capital Abuja, says "HIV-AIDS is as much a city problem as much as a problem for small towns and villages."
Pledging more official assistance, Menakaya says the 1999 supplementary budget by the government of Olusegun Obasanjo "exceeds the total budgetary allocation to AIDS control in 1996, 1997 and 1998."
"The present administration has identified the effective control of HIV/AIDS as one of the major priority health problems to be addressed," he says.
1999 survey, made available to IPS, presents a grim
statistic that places the national average of HIV infection at
5.4 percent up from a 1990 average of 1.8 percent. Only Cameroon,
Nigeria's neighbor to the east, has a slightly higher figure of
5.5 percent prevalence rate.
The HIV infection rate in Nigeria's other neighbours Benin currently stands at 2.8 percent, Chad 2.7 percent and Niger 2.0 percent, respectively.
Edugie Abebe, Director of Nigeria's Primary Health Care and Disease Control, says, although sentinel surveys had been conducted in Nigeria since 1992, the 1999 survey is unique in that it covers the whole of Nigeria for the first time.
"The results have been presented in a way that the average user of the data would understand it," she says. "All Nigerians need to know the implications of the results so that the whole nation can join hands to fight the AIDS problem."
Not all can, however, access the 53-page report, as a result of the prevailing level of illiteracy in the country. Nigeria's illiteracy rate stands at 31 percent for male and 49 percent for women, according to the 1999/2000 World Bank World Development Report.
Non-governmental organizations and some state governments have mounted exhibitions and given talks at bus stops and parks in major cities to highlight the scourge of the killer disease, calling for attitudinal change.
In Nigeria, HIV prevalence in pregnant women ranged from 0.5 percent to 21 percent with an average prevalence of 5.4 percent.
In 300 samples collected in each of the two sites chosen in Nigeria's 36 states and the Federal capital Abuja, the North Central zone, in which Abuja is situated, recorded the worst HIV prevalence average rate of seven percent. Garki, a suburb of Abuja, recorded eight percent. The North West has the least prevalent rate of 3.2 percent.
In Lagos, the country's commercial capital and home to several Red Light Districts, with a population of about 10 million, the average prevalence rate is 6.7 percent.
The survey says women in their 20s have the highest rate of HIV infection. "HIV prevalence in the 20-24 age group ranged from 4.2 percent in the South West zone to 9.7 percent in the North Central zone."
Young adults, aged between 15-19, are similarly affected with HIV prevalence ranging from 2.8 percent in the North East zone to 8.4 percent in the North Central zone.
"Using the results of the 1999 survey, it is estimated that currently 2.6 million adult Nigerians, aged 15-49 years, are infected. It is projected that by the year 2003, 4.9 million Nigerian adults will be carrying the AIDS virus," the report concludes.
Nigeria, with a population of more than 110 million, is not the only one affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. In fact Africa, which has only 10 percent of the world's population, currently has 70 percent of the 34 million global cases of HIV/AIDS, according to the UN World Health Organization
January 2, 2000 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
All Rights Reserved.
Contact email@example.com for permission to use in any format.