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HIV anti retroviral treatment saves over 1 million lives.

By Mbam Ogodo, Abakaliki
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Over 2 million new HIV infections have been averted with over 1 million death of children under five years old prevented as a result of more pregnant women receiving anti retroviral treatment.

UNICEF Nigeria country representative, Peter Hawkins made this known in a global snapshot on children, HIV and AIDS released by UNICEF in advance of World AIDS Day.

Hawkins stressed the need to see the same kind of progress in ensuring that children who already have the virus are

receiving lifesaving treatment.
He said that HIV programmes need to be fully funded and equipped to preserve, protect and improve the quality of life for Nigerian children adding that they cannot abandon those children.

Also, additional data from the report reveals that In 2018,about 160,000 children aged 0-9 were newly infected with HIV, bringing the total number of children in this age group living with HIV to 1.1 million.

It further stated that 89,000 children under the age of five were infected during pregnancy or birth and 76,000 were

infected during breastfeeding in 2018 while 140,000 adolescent girls were newly infected with HIV in 2018.

“But we need to see the same kind of progress in ensuring that children who already have the virus are receiving lifesaving treatment.

"HIV programmes need to be fully funded and equipped to preserve, protect and improve the quality of life for Nigerian children. We cannot and must not abandon these children,” said Hawkins.

It was also gathered from the report that over 47 children and adolescents died every day from AIDS- related cases in 2018 as a result of Low access to anti retroviral treatment and limited prevention effort.

The release also disclosed that only 54 per cent of children aged 0-14 living with HIV globally in 2018 – or 790,000 children – receive lifesaving anti retroviral therapy.

“Progress has been made in the battle against HIV and AIDS - but we must do more, especially when it comes to Nigerian children and adolescents,” said UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative Peter Hawkins.

“Testing and treating for children and adolescents is a matter of life and death – and we must choose life", Hawkins concluded.