Majority of Nigerians Do Not Believe HIV/AIDS Exists, Health Official Says
Although 90% of Nigerians have heard about HIV/AIDS, 80% do not believe the disease exists, Babatunde Osotimehin, chair of the country's National Action Committee on HIV/AIDS, said on Monday, AngolaPress reports. In response to these statistics, Osotimehin said that NACA aims to strengthen its HIV/AIDS education campaign by doubling from 20 to 40 its number of informational officers. By increasing the number of officers, NACA hopes to assist the government in reaching its goal of reducing the country's HIV prevalence rate from 5% in 2003 to 2.5% by the end of 2005, according to Osotimehin (AngolaPress, 9/21). Nigeria announced in August that it hopes to provide 200,000 of the approximately 3.5 million HIV-positive people in the country with antiretroviral drugs by the end of 2005 using $248 million in aid from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The funds also will be used to diagnose and monitor patients who receive antiretrovirals under Nigeria's HIV/AIDS treatment program (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/20). "Fifteen thousand Nigerians are currently treated with the drugs, which would increase to 30,000 before the end of this year," Osotimehin said. The country so far has established 25 antiretroviral drug distribution centers where patients can receive treatment, according to AngolaPress (AngolaPress, 9/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.