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  • on 04.08.2014
  • at 11:00 AM
  • by Kevin Hind

Nigeria wakes up to its AIDS threat 0

Nigeria acts to reduce HIV/AIDS transmission from mothers to babies, as it accounts for one third of new infections amongst children in sub-Saharan Africa’s twenty worst-hit countries.

Tope Tayo’s marriage broke up 11 years ago after she tested positive for HIV. Her angry and embarrassed husband took away their only child. Three months later, when the one year old boy tested positive, the husband dumped him with Tayo and absconded.

 “He abandoned us as if we had committed a crime but I told him HIV is not a crime,” Tayo told IPS.

She was jobless and the husband paid no maintenance. “I walked the streets crying, I was living on charity,” Tayo recalls.

The runaway man who abandons his HIV positive wife and children is a common feature in Nigeria, says Rosemary Hua, coordinator of the First Step Action for Children, an organisation that advocates for child rights.

“Fathers withdraw their support because they feel there is no need to invest in a child that is likely to die young,” Hua told IPS.

Nigeria’s HIV infection rate of 3.2 percent appears low in comparison to southern Africa’s, but with a population of 173 million, it translates into huge numbers – 3.4 million Nigerians lived with HIV in 2013.

Of these, 430,000 are children under 14, according to a recent report of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Nigeria accounts for one third of all new infections among children in the 20 worst hit countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The report says Nigeria faces “the triple threat of high HIV burden, low treatment coverage and no or little decline in new HIV infections.”

Moreover, the national HIV rate conceals sharp disparities among the 36 states: in four, prevalence ranges from eight to 15 percent.

continue reading on IPS

By Sam OlukoyaIPS

Photo credit: PRI/Anders Kelto

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