No fewer than 306,489 persons tested positive for Human Immunodeficiency Virus in 2021, according to the National Agency for the Control of AIDS.
The data, exclusively obtained by The PUNCH, revealed that the 306,489 persons, who tested positive for the infection, were among the 7,647,637 persons that were tested for HIV and received results in 2021.
HIV is a virus that gradually attacks the immune system, which is the body’s natural defence against illness.
The virus makes it difficult for the bodies of infected persons to fight diseases.
The data also shows that 1,789,944 persons living with HIV are currently receiving antiretroviral therapy.
The National HIV Testing Day is celebrated annually on June 27.
In a press release made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Monday, the Director-General of NACA, Dr Gambo Aliyu, said, “The earlier someone is diagnosed as living with HIV and initiated on life-saving treatment, the better chances of controlling the virus and preventing the spread.
“People can live long and healthy lives with early detection of HIV and proper treatment and care.”
The National HIV Testing Day-themed “HIV testing is self-care” aims at sensitising people to get tested and link those who tested positive to care and support available to them.
The DG noted that HIV testing is free and confidential in all hospitals.
“We can end and prevent the spread of HIV if we know our HIV status. Testing is the gateway to HIV services,” he said.
A medical virologist and immunologist at the Adeleke University, Ede, Osun state, Dr Oladipo Kolawole, said there are chances that the infection rate will continue without early detection and treatment.
He added that there is the need to increase awareness and increase the country’s testing capacity.
“The needs to rise up and support that system so that more sensitisation can be done and make the tests more accessible, not waiting until the world AIDS days is commemorated,” he said.