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Story and Perspective

Ending AIDS in Children—The Time is Now

Nigeria

Despite almost halving the number of HIV infections since 2010 in West and Central Africa, the region is home to 52 percent of all pregnant women living with HIV globally, and two out of three HIV-positive children across the region are not on life-saving treatment.1  

Nigeria has committed to changing this, as one of 12 African countries to sign the Dar es Salaam Declaration and end AIDS in children by 2030.   

Providing access to universal testing and treatment for all children and adolescents living with HIV, ensuring access to sustained treatment and care for all pregnant and breastfeeding women, and implementing comprehensive, integrated HIV services are among several investments Nigeria is making to save children’s lives.  

In Nigeria’s Kano, Jigawa, and Bauchi states, Pathfinder has been assisting the Nigerian government to act on its commitment through the ACE2 Project, a consortium led by Georgetown Global Health Nigeria. The ACE2 Project focuses on HIV prevention, specifically prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), and treatment and care for pediatric and adolescent HIV.  

ACE2 has mentored more than 800 health care workers and community case testers on safe and ethical HIV testing services, supporting the provision of comprehensive PMTCT at 90 health facilities and 242 comprehensive PMTCT sites, including delivery homes and traditional birth centers. Additionally, through an approach called the Baby Shower Initiative, ACE2 has engaged Islamic religious leaders and traditional birth attendants in prevention and ensuring treatment and support for HIV-positive mothers.  

Name has been changed for privacy

Mairo Dnajuma was a direct recipient of services support by the ACE2 Project in Kano state. Diagnosed as HIV-positive in 2019, when she became pregnant several years later, she began attending antenatal care sessions, where she learned what to do to prevent her baby from contracting HIV.  

“I was told to… exclusively breastfeed the baby for six months, dissolve septrin in breast milk when I need to feed the baby… and get separate personal items for the baby. That’s exactly what I did and by God’s grace the baby was protected from getting the disease,” said Mairo Danjuma. 

“When I got pregnant and got tested, I was very worried to the point that I fainted. It was my husband that came and took me home and after that I came myself to the hospital to give birth. Afterwards, I brought the baby back and she was placed on medication. When she was six weeks, I brought her back and it was confirmed that she was negative. I was then given septirn to continue giving her. I made sure that both of us took our medication at the same time,” she continued. 

“When the baby became a year old, I weaned the baby and kept giving her drugs. When I took the baby to go get tested for the last time, they said the baby was negative and I can stop giving her drugs.” 

Improved quality of HIV prevention, care, and treatment services in the three states supported by ACE2 has successfully suppressed the virus among most children infected with HIV—93% of children younger than 15 and adolescents 15-19 years. Over the next year, ACE2 will continue to support high-quality PMTCT, pediatric antiretroviral therapy, and HIV prevention services in the three states, saving lives and contributing to the government’s commitment to end pediatric AIDS. 

Mairo Danjuma

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