According to the World Bank, there are over 3.5 million people living with HIV in Nigeria.
Leaders of HIV programs in Abuja are mapping the area’s highest risk areas with colorful dots. The population of people in these areas comprises of sex workers and drug users who inject, and men who have sex with men. Nationwide these people make up about 3.4 percent of the population; however, they are responsible for over 40 percent of new infections.
This is part of a novel effort to track the disease that infects almost a thousand people a day in Nigeria, the second highest rate in the world.
Part of the exercise with the dots is to connect these areas to healthcare facilities and civil society organizations (CSOs) that provide services to those with the infection. These services include antiretroviral therapy, HIV counseling and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV.
Abuja is the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and is one of over 30 areas nationwide that State agencies are mapping. These areas include 1,560 places where sex workers work, 116 connected with men who have sex with men and 43 with injecting drug users.
Nigeria has a five-year plan (2010-2015) that focuses on prevention strategies for people who are most at risk of exposure. This plan includes expanding not only access to treatment, but also spreading awareness of safe sex and management of the epidemic to other programs.
Knowing your status, no matter where you are in the world, is exceedingly important. Many countries are following in Nigeria’s footsteps and implementing more preventative measures while funding research for AIDS cures. HIV tests are more prevalent, and in the US the FDA has approved the first over-the-counter HIV test. This global initiative to improve the science around HIV is supported by both the World Health Organization and the World Bank.