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