HIV/AIDS prevalence on the increase among gays, reduces among sex workers —Ex-NACA boss

The immediate past Director- General of National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA),  Professor John Idoko,  at the weekend,  said  that there has been sharp increase of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among homosexuals in the country, while the rate of the scourge had declined among commercial sex workers.

Professor Idoko, who  said this  at the Seventh Professor Adetokunbo Lucas Public Health Leadership Forum guest lecture he delivered at the Institute of Public Health,Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife,  Osun State, said that there was critical need for Nigeria to be actively involved in research and development of new diagnostics, most especially, in the early post-exposure infection, vaccines, prevention, approaches for young women and slow release of anti-retro cubital drugs, with a view to combating HIV/AIDS.

He expressed delight that Nigeria had made an appreciable efforts at reducing HIV/AIDS prevalence, from six per cent to three per cent, just as he lamented that the  stigma and discrimination have continued to undermine effective responses to HIV/AIDS treatment in Nigeria.

Professor Idoko  said  that “survey showed that HIV is prevalent among men having sex with men. It is, however, declining  in all other populations, including sex workers.”

While arguing that “criminalisation of sex workers and men having sex with men, had compounded their exposure to early treatment”, he averred that “success  in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria will depend on building on successes, learning from failures and implementing to scale.”

The acting vice- chancellor, OAU, Professor Anthony Elujoba, on the occasion, advocated  the use of religion as a tool for preventing HIV/AIDS.

In separate goodwill messages, Dr Oluwole Odutolu and Dr Prosper Okonkwo, who are chairman, Board of Director and Chief Executive Officer of AIDS Prevention Initiative I Nigeria ,APINS, respectively, lauded Professor Lucas Adetokunbo, describing him as a quitensentia academia, who had left an indelible mark in the field of medicine in Nigeria and globally.