By Job Osazuwa

The Nigerian Business Coalition Against AIDS (NiBUCAA) has raised the alarm that 1.9 million Nigerians were living with the Human Immune Virus (HIV) and called for more testing kits and increased education and awareness to stem the spread of the disease.

It said out of the figure, only 1.6 million were receiving treatment, and that as at 2019, 53,000 people had died from HIV/AID related disease. It also revealed that many Nigerians still do not know their HIV status, which increases the high risk of further transmission.

This was disclosed, yesterday, in Lagos during a capacity building and awareness on HIV self-testing, where the group said the latest figure of infections was worrisome.

The event was organised in partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Senior programme and evaluation officer for NiBUCAA, Damola Araoye, who spoke at the event, said the group with the support from ILO targets the reduction of HIV infection through self-testing, capacity building and awareness creation among private sector workforce in Nigeria.

She said the statistics revealed that over the years more women have come out to test for HIV against men who are often reluctant to know their status.

“Only 57 per cent adults were on antiretroviral therapy, while 35 per cent children were on therapy,” Araoye said.

She said  the test kits, which is safe, accurate and easy to use were being distributed to achieve an HIV free society.

According to Araoye,  self-testing addresses the challenge of loss of privacy and reduces inconvenience, missed work opportunities, financial barriers and other opportunity costs related to visiting the conventional testing centres.

“People still need to go for a confirmation test at a conventional health facility for the purpose of record keeping and further medical follow-up as the case may be,” she said.