Monday, December 02, 2013

HIV and AIDS news coverage #IRP13

Some experts have identified the way forward in tackling the spread of HIV.
To be free from HIV in Nigeria, we must start with pregnant women and the pregnant women will have to be on treatment to prevent the transmission of HIV to their babies,” says one expert. The hope that the spread of HIV can be stopped when efforts are channelled towards pregnant women and nursing mothers was a reoccurring one during a recent coverage on HIV and AIDS in Nasarawa state, north central Nigeria.
What is the current situation?
According to UNAIDS, in 2012 an estimated 35.3 million people globally were living with HIV, 2.3 million people became newly infected with HIV while 1.6 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses.
 In Nigeria, there are over three million people living with HIV and Nasarawa state has one of the highest prevalence rate at 7.5%, according to a report by Nasarawa State AIDS Control Agency (NASACA).
In the face of these glooming statistics are inspiring stories. An example is the Nigerian lady living with HIV but who has a HIV-negative baby, thanks to the PMTCT services provided at her local healthcare.
Earlier this year, while addressing a group of female leaders in Abuja, President Goodluck Jonathan opined thatto end AIDS, we must first end poverty. From this, one can be led to draw a conclusion that poverty is a pedestal upon which AIDS is raised to thrive on. Maybe it is, maybe it is not.
However, in the same event, the President of Liberia reassured us that "HIV is no longer a death sentence." 
In a situation where a couple is living with HIV, they can both successfully give birth to HIV-negative children. But it has to take the cooperation of both parties to adhere to treatment. With the invention of new treatments, experts are certain that through PMTCT, we can protect future generations from HIV.” But what happens if babies are still born HIV-positive? 
 “We have seen tremendous political commitment and results to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV—but we are failing the children who become infected. We urgently need better diagnostic tools and child-friendly medicines—irrespective of the market size.” Says Mr Sidibe, the Executive Director of UNAIDS.
Meanwhile, as huge efforts are being put in place to tackle HIV/AIDS through PMTCT intervention, lack of adherence to treatment has been identified as a major barrier, second to lack of funds to sustain programs that will encourage nursing mothers and pregnant women to access treatment.
Some women are prevented from accessing treatment by their husbands. Thus, gender inequality as driver of HIV will remain a huge part of our conversation just as stakeholders will continue to advocate for an increase in awareness to curb the spread of other diseases such as hepatitis. 
As the world marked the International day of the Elderly, the coverage focus shifted to a unique angle-- what happens when older persons take the lead in HIV prevention in rural communityWe saw the efforts of older persons who took the lead in HIV prevention campaign in rural Nigeria.
In a recent report by UNAIDS, the need for attention to be directed towards adults aged 50 and over was raised.
An increasingly significant trend in the global HIV epidemic is the growing number of people aged 50 years and older, who are living with HIV. 
 Worldwide, an estimated 3.6 [3.2–3.9] million people aged 50 years and older are living with HIV.
This “aging” of the HIV epidemic is mainly due to three factors: the success of antiretroviral therapy in prolonging the lives of people living with HIV; decreasing HIV incidence among younger adults shifting the disease burden to older ages; and the often-unmeasured, and thus often overlooked, fact that people aged 50 years and older exhibit many of the risk behaviours also found among younger people. 
Well. Whether focusing on the unborn babies or the elderly, can the spread of HIV can be brought to a halt? Can we still get to zero?
 Let's keep pushing. Let's keep reporting!

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