In a revelation that sent shockwaves through Anambra State, the Health Commissioner, Afam Obidike, disclosed a hidden HIV crisis during a media briefing in Awka. The staggering revelation comes ahead of the 2023 World AIDS Day, observed every December 1.
Obidike revealed that Anambra State has been silently grappling with a significant HIV crisis, with a total of 98,960 individuals living with the virus. The commissioner expressed concern as Anambra’s HIV prevalence is ranked as the 5th highest in the country and the highest in the South-East. During the briefing, he provided insights into the current status, stating that only 58% of those affected know their status, and a mere 44,808 are currently on treatment.
Despite these alarming figures, Obidike also shared positive developments, highlighting a gradual decline in new infections (46% between 2021 and 2023) and AIDS-related deaths (32% between 2021 and 2023). He emphasized the importance of scaling up Prevention of Mother-to-child Transmission services and reassured that with Anti Retro-viral Therapy (ART), HIV is no longer a death sentence.
The Director of Public Health, Afam Anaeme, stressed the significance of community engagement in combating the disease, urging communities to lead in the development, execution, and oversight of HIV programs.
“Communities are people living with, at risk of, or affected by HIV, and they need to lead the frontline of progress in the HIV response,” Anaeme stated.
Executive Director of ANSACA, Johnbosco Ementa, encouraged residents to utilize free testing centers across the state and acknowledged the collaboration with partners in expanding HIV treatment sites and improving testing coverage and accessibility.