By Mike Adeyemi
Further analysis on the grim statistics recently released by health authorities in Kwara State showing that 432 babies have been infected with HIV\AIDS in the last six months and prognosis of resident doctors show that much more need to be done on HIV\AIDS transmission among children in Kwara State.
Dr. Saleem Alabi, chairman, Kwara State Action Committee on HIV\AIDS, KWASACA, at a media function last week, estimated that 432 children were recorded to have been infected with HIV and AIDS between January and June in Kwara. Further analysis of the figure shows that two babies were infected with the condition on daily basis in the period under review. By extension, no less than 72 babies got HIV\AIDS in Kwara every month for the last six months despite government and private efforts to curb the syndrome.
Owolabi Adebayo, Chairman, Association of Resident Doctors, ARD, Kwara State, while commenting on the sobering figures on the infectious immunodeficiency condition in the state, said that it was traceable to poor management of anti and post natal health care for mothers already infected with the syndrome.
“The absence of measures for preventing unwanted pregnancy among the women of reproductive age group, preventing unwanted pregnancy among HIV infected women, early diagnosis and treatment of children with HIV, poor health education on reproductive and sexual health, social security for children and serious legislation against offenders, and support for the parents and family of the affected children, are key ingredients lacking in the management of HIV/AIDS,” said Dr Adebayo.
His explanations were quite in sync with the earlier summation of the KWASACA boss. According to Dr Alabi, in his presentation titled: “HIV/AIDS, an Opportunistic Infection”, during the media function recently, the cases recorded were from mother-to-child transmission either at birth or through breastfeeding.
The babies were exposed to infected blood or breast milk, as a result, they would be vulnerable to the condition. The KWASACA coordinator said that HIV is a virus that lives in human blood, sexual fluids, and breast milk. Alabi said that the infection would spread from person to person when certain body fluids were shared, usually during vaginal or anal sex, or when sharing drugs through injection. He said that it could also be passed to the human body from infected needles, tattoos during body piercing. According to him, it weakens the immune system, so that the body will have a hard time fighting off common germs, viruses, fungi, and other invaders.
Official statistics shows that about 35 million people have succumbed to the HIV and AIDS condition worldwide while 3.3 million of them were Nigerians.
Alabi reminded the audience that advances in anti-retroviral therapy had made it possible for people with HIV to live longer and healthier lives. He also added that the public could prevent HIV and enjoy AIDS transmission by avoiding the sharing of sharp objects such as razor blades, used needles and syringes.
He said the state government had put in place laws that imposed between N50,000 and N100,000 fine on anybody stigmatising people living with HIV and AIDS.
Alabi also explained the 90/90/90 target to end HIV and AIDS by 2030.
He said that it meant: “90 per cent will be on anti-retroviral therapy, 90 per cent will get tested and 90 per cent are zero HIV and AIDS infection in the society.”