|For Immediate Release
Support for Africa - 18 October 2000
In support of sufferers of
AIDS and Malaria in Africa.
Statements on AIDS in Africa.
According to Dr Peter Piot, the Executive Director
of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS);
in 1998 about 590,000 people in Nigeria had AIDS (this
figure does not include HIV prevalence).
Of this figure, 95% was through heterosexual transmission,
4% through blood and 10% through. Mother-to-baby transmission.
Dr Piot said. "There is an unprecedented window of opportunity
The new government's creation of a presidential AIDS
Committee headed by the President himself is a promising
sign for Nigeria, where there has been very little public
acknowledgement of HIV or AIDS until now.
Recently, the Head of State declared AIDS one of his
top priorities and I must commend Nigeria for this public
show of political commitment." Nigeria's epidemic is
less acute than that of some other African countries.
A recent survey indicates that 5.4% of the adult population
(2.6 million of the Country's 120m people), are infected
with HIV compared with prevalence rates five times that
high in some areas of southern Africa.
"Although the rates are below average for the continent,
a small increase could be catastrophic," said Dr Piot.
A Nigeria with a higher prevalence is something neither
Nigeria nor, the rest of Africa can afford.
AIDS is a borderless epidemic and an increase within
the country would have repercussions well beyond.
At the same time other countries are looking to Nigeria
for direction, and if Nigeria responds strongly to stem
the epidemic this will send very positive signals. With
one in five Africans is a Nigerian (sic), Nigeria
is poised to play a pivotal leadership role in reversing
the AIDS epidemic in Africa," said Dr Piot.
AIDS has cut back life expectancy rates and in some
African countries is reverting to 1960's level.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, the epidemic continues to
impact seriously on all aspects of society. One in every
100 adults is infected with HIV.
More than 40 million people may be infected by the
More than 350,000 people acquire a sexually transmitted
infection (STI) each day.
Sources: UNAIDS and World Health Organization