About 400,000 Nigerian drug users who exchange needles and syringes as a group while ingesting drugs are responsible for the spread of HIV in the country.
This was disclosed by Dr Gambo Aliyu, Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA).
Aliyu made the disclosure in Abuja on Wednesday. He identified exchange of needles and syringes by drug users as one of the greatest causes of the spread of HIV, Hepatitis and other diseases. He was speaking at the presentation of an Evaluation report; specifically on Assessment of Pilot Needle and Syringe programme for people who ingest drugs in Nigeria.
“People who ingest drugs constitute significant group that live with and spread HIV. The pilot strategy is to ensure that people who ingest drugs don’t exchange needles; or syringes to reduce the spread of HIV,’’ he said.
Also, in her remarks, Mrs Akudo Ikpeazu of the Federal Ministry of Health, commended NACA for a job well done; saying that the pilot project was imperative in reducing the spread of HIV. Ikpeazu expressed optimism that the report would go a long way; especially in reducing the spread of HIV in the pilot states in particular and in Nigeria in general.
On his part, Dr Omokhudu Idogho, Managing Director, Society for Family Health expressed satisfaction with the report. Further, he affirmed the determination of the society to continue to identify with NACA for its successes. Idogho explained that the project offered the opportunity to engage about 2,700 persons; most of whom ingest drugs so that they could stop sharing needles.
In another remark, Dr Green Kalada, Country Representative, University of Manitoba, USA; expressed the varsity’s readiness to continue to support NACA in the area of research.
The pilot project in Abia, Oyo and Gombe was funded by Global Fund. It was supervised by NACA and the Ministry of Health. The pilot aims at reducing HIV prevalence among drugs ingesting groups.