Ahead of World AIDS Day (December 1), National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA), yesterday, alerted that girls and women in Nigeria are disproportionately burdened by Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV), which causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Director General of NACA, Dr. Gambo Gumel Aliyu, in a keynote address during dissemination of the ‘Report of the Gender Assessment of the HIV Response in Nigeria, 2022’, said the most recent data available from Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) – AIDS info, 2021- shows that HIV prevalence among adult women aged 15 to 49 years (1.6 per cent) is considerably higher than of men at 1.0 per cent.
“Furthermore, in 2020, women accounted for 62 per cent of new HIV infections among adults in the country, while more women than men are retained in HIV care and have higher viral suppression rates,” Aliyu said.
He said NACA, with support from UNAIDS Country Office (UCO) in Nigeria and the Joint UN Team on AIDS, conducted the first Gender Assessment of the HIV Response in 2013. He said its findings and recommendations facilitated the development of evidence-based priorities to achieve a gender transformative, equitable and rights-based approach in the response.
Aliyu said to ensure a sustained gender response in HIV/AIDS programming, a second Gender Assessment was conducted in 2021, with support from UNAIDS and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).
He said this national assessment is aimed at providing a comprehensive and in-depth review of gender equity and inclusion dimensions of the national HIV epidemic and the national policy and programmatic response, as well as making evidence-based recommendations that can and should be implemented.
Aliyu said the 2022 Gender Assessment of the National HIV Response in Nigeria was guided by the UNAIDS Gender Assessment Tool, which was adapted to fit the local context.
He explained: “A steering committee was constituted to secure high-level commitment of all relevant stakeholders in the national HIV and AIDS response. The process involved rigorous qualitative data collection and collation in six states plus the Federal Capital Territory.
“The qualitative data was used to better understand entrenched gender inequalities and further provide clarity on the available quantitative data gathered from the comprehensive up-to-date secondary information on the national HIV epidemic and the HIV response.
“The findings were utilised to generate evidence-based recommendations and action plans for a more gender responsive national and multi sectoral HIV response.”