In a new national survey conducted by the federal government for the 2012 National HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Health Survey-Plus (NARHS Plus) Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is now 3.4 per cent.
However, Rivers State leads other states in the country with a prevalence rate of 15.2 per cent.
NARHS is conducted to monitor the HIV/AIDS epidemic among the general population in the country. It involves other sexual and reproductive health indicators and behavioural tendencies.
The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Sani Bala, at the national dissemination of the survey findings said the result of the survey reflects the efforts of the federal government in the fight against HIV in the country.
Bala explained: "The HIV prevalence situation compared with 3.6 per cent in 2007 about 3.4 per cent of Nigerians is currently living with HIV/AIDS with 3.2 per cent in urban and 3.6 per cent in the rural areas and 2.9 per cent among young people aged 15-19 years."
A cursory look at the new survey indicated that Taraba State ranked second with a prevalence rate of 10.5 per cent; followed by Kaduna State with 9.2 per cent. Nasarawa State has 8.1 per cent while the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) 7.5 per cent. Ekiti State however has the least prevalence rate of 0.2 per cent, Zamfara 0.4 per cent, Bauchi 0.6 per cent and Ogun 0.6per cent.
Addressing journalist, the Technical Assistant to the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Nyemenim Michael, said: "We are here today to take a look at the figures that have been made available reflecting the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the whole country and also in the individual states, Rivers State has had a prevalence rate of 3.1 per cent, but today we are seeing a prevalence rate of 15.2 per cent.”
"We are terribly worried and alarmed by these figures. This is because to the best of our knowledge, these figures do not reflect the true health position. Not from our hospital services, not from activities we have in our outreach programmes.”
"We were thinking that Rivers state should not have gone anywhere between 3.1 per cent and 3.5 per cent. As a matter of fact, we expect to come lower than that. This is because, over the years, Rivers State has been one of the states that have been very consistent with carrying out HIV programmes.”
He further explained that "as a matter of fact, when other states do not seem to have regular supply of drugs, but Rivers State has it. The man power inbuilt into our health system has been so much recognised to the extent that it is impossible for us to see this kind of astronomical rise in the prevalence rate.”
"We do not have any war in Rivers State, we do not have any influx and we do not have any epidemic and the health care system in Rivers State is has not broken down for us to have these figures. So we are a little bit worried.”
"We do not have any problem with Anti-Retroviral drugs and we do not lack facility."
On whether they state will protest the result, he said: "We just want to make a point that these figures are just not right.”