No fewer than 44,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS across the 13 local government areas and 18 development areas in Nasarawa State, the Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr. Gambo Gumel Aliyu, has said.
Out of this number, about 22,000 of them are at large throughout the state — that is to say, they are not on treatment, he added.
Aliyu spoke on Monday while inaugurating the North Central Zonal Office of NACA in Lafia, Nasarawa State capital.
The NACA DG said, “About 44,000 people are living with the HIV/AIDS in Nasarawa State, out of which about 22,000 are at large.
“These 20,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the state, who are at large, are the ones that we are looking for.”
He, however, stated that NACA has done very well in the last 15 years by reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS prevalence to 1.4 per cent from 4.4 per cent in the country.
Aliyu continued: “In the last 15 years, we were talking of 3.5 million people living with the epidemic in Nigeria. But today, we are talking of about 1.9m people with the disease, or less, across the country.”
“NACA is in Nasarawa State to push the fight against HIV/AIDS to the last mile.
“That is to say, everyone is being tested to know their status so that those that are HIV/AIDS positive are treated, while those who test negative remain negative for the rest of their lives.”
Aliyu added that there was no way to end HIV/AIDS if people living with the virus don’t know their status, warning, “knowing your status is the beginning of controlling HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.”
Earlier, the North Central Zonal coordinator of NACA, Lawrence Kwaghga, commended the government of Nasarawa State for supporting the take-off of the NACA zonal office, even as he promised to collaborate with the AIDS control agencies in the North Central Zone to curtail the epidemic.