2nd December, 2010
At least, 1,051 pregnant women have tested positive to the dreaded HIV disease inÂ public hospitals in Lagos State, South West Nigeria in 10 months, says the stateÂ Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris.
According to the commissioner, the 10-month period is between January andÂ October, 2010. He revealed that over 28,000 pregnant women were tested for HIVÂ within the period and 1, 051 of them tested positive.
Dr. Idris butressed his claim from a survey carried out by National SentinelÂ Surveys which put the prevalent rate of HIV infection in the state at a staggeringÂ 5.1 percent.
â€œThe sentinel surveys carried out in Lagos has confirmed a steady, though,Â inconsistent increase in the number of HIV infected people.Â While sharing the loveÂ and not the virus, let us all join hands together to achieve an HIV/AIDS freeÂ Lagos,â€ said Idris at a conference to mark the Worldâ€™s AID Day in Lagos.
According to him, Lagos has almost one million people infected with HIV outÂ of the estimated 18 million people in the state, adding that over 115,000 peopleÂ were tested for HIV in various health facilities across the state between JanuaryÂ and October 2010.
â€œOver 35,000 clients are enrolled into ART programme.Â The state governmentÂ has significantly increased the service delivery points in the state in respect ofÂ HIV treatment, care, support and prevention services.
â€œLagos State has taken the lead in the fight against discrimination with theÂ passage of a law for the protection of Persons Living With HIV/AIDs, PLWHAs,â€ heÂ added.
The commissioner disclosed that the state government has intensified efforts toÂ ensure that access to HIV/AIDS preventive and curative services were improvedÂ throughout the state and the rights of PLWHAs were not infringed.
He noted that PLWHAs should be an integral part of the society with equal right asÂ any other citizen without limitation and discrimination. He said there should be noÂ discrimination at work places, public places; no travelling restriction and victimsÂ should have equal rights with people not affected.
The commissioner also revealed that government has put in place measures to enableÂ people with HIV/AIDS have access to preventive and curative services as well asÂ enhance the health of PLWHAs through nutritional programmes.
He described Lagos State as a trail blazer in the fight against HIV/AIDS in NigeriaÂ as it was the first state in the country to recognize the epidemic impact of theÂ disease in 1999 by setting up a foundation which later became the stateâ€™s AIDSÂ Control Agency in 2002.
He explained that through the foundationâ€™s efforts, the 2005 NationalÂ HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Health Survey showed that more than 97 percent ofÂ Lagosians have heard of HIV and AIDS and 94 percent of them had good knowledge ofÂ its prevention.
â€œPresently, there are 56 HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) sites spreadÂ across the State. There are 40 prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT)Â sites, 29 adult antiretroviral therapy (ART) sites and 22 paediatrics ART sites.Â Several developmental partners are committed along with the state government towardsÂ improved access to HIV/AIDS services in the State.
â€œThe Lagos State AIDS Control Agency also provides micro-credit schemes toÂ alleviate various problems facing PLWHAs towards their social and economicÂ empowerment,â€ he added.