By Philip Yatai
Kaduna, – The Kaduna State AIDS Control Agency (KADSACA) says two programmes
are underway to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS among drug addicts in the state.
The Executive Secretary of the agency, Dr Isah Baka, made this known in a special interview
with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna on Thursday, on the occasion of the 2022 World AIDS Day (WAD).
NAN reports that World AIDS Day is annually celebrated on Dec. 1 in UN member states since 1988 as an international
day to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic, caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who died of the disease.
AIDS is a chronic immune system disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which damages the
immune system and interferes with the body’s ability to fight diseases.
HIV can spread through contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids.
There’s no cure for HIV/AIDS, but medications can control the infection and prevent disease
progression and people taking HIV medications may not have other symptoms for years.
Some people with HIV develop flu-like symptoms two to four weeks after getting the virus and as the virus multiplies
and destroys immune cells, symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes may occur.
If left untreated, HIV typically turns into AIDS in about eight to 10 years.
The KADSACA secretary, therefore, said that the programmes, tagged Opioid and Substitution Therapy (OST) and Needle
and Syringe Programme (NSP) were designed to prevent the spread of the virus among people addicted to drugs.
He explained that the OST programme was designed to help drug addicts with risky behaviour to come out of their
addiction by substituting the hard drugs with a mild one and gradually stop the addiction.
He added that “by doing this, we will be helping to prevent risky sexual bahaviours and injection of needles to
administer drugs, which in the long run will prevent new transmission of HIV virus.
“If this fails, then we will bring the NSP, particularly for people who inject drugs into their bloodstream sometimes
using shared needles, which exposes them to contracting the virus.
“This will be achieved by preventing the reuse of sharp objects and needles to inject drugs by providing the addicts
syringe and needle for every injection they need.
“This will prevent them from contracting or spreading the virus, thereby preventing new infection.
“If we cannot stop you from using drugs; we can at least prevent you from contracting or spreading the virus
through sharing of needles,” he said.
The executive secretary added that with the support of development partners, the state government was
able to keep the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the state at 1.1 per cent.
He identified the partners to include UNFPA, UNICEF, Global Fund, Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria,
Centre for Integrated Health Programmes, and Society for Family Health.
He said HIV prevalence had reduced from 11.6 per cent in 1999 to 1.1 per cent in 2018 and expressed
optimism for a significant drop in the prevalence in the coming years.
He added that of the 1.1 per cent prevalence, only 63,000 were placed on treatment, saying that efforts were ongoing
to ensure that the 63,000 remain on treatment.
He said “there are currently 56 comprehensive centres for HIV counselling, testing, treatment, and monitoring across the state.
“We are also making efforts to ensure that those who are not on treatment are placed on treatment, while those
who stopped treatment along the way are captured and placed on treatment again.
“Efforts are also ongoing to ensure that every resident knows his or her HIV status, including those who
think they are infected but are afraid to get tested,’’ he added. (NAN)