‘20,500 Nigerians Died of AIDS-related Causes in 2020 Not 51,000’


National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has corrected itself, saying the number of people who died of AIDS-related causes in Nigeria within the first six months of year 2020 is 20,500, rather than the 51,000 it stated in a media interview.

NACA Director-General, Gambo Aliyu, had told a national newspaper in an interview published on August 30 that the number of deaths among the People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) might worsen if the disruption to HIV/AIDS treatment persists for another six months.

“For now, we can tentatively say as of June this year, an estimated number of 51,000 people had lost their lives.

“We fear that it is due to lack of access to medication and the disruption that COVID-19 brought.

“We are likely to experience more because a recent work we did, a rigorous module, shows that treatment disruption for another six months is likely to cause double of mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa,” he had said in the interview.

But, NACA spokesperson, Toyin Aderibigbe, admitted the error and offered needed correct information.

Aderibigbe said: “The 51,000 is actually ‘lost to follow up,’ meaning, those people that registered for HIV treatment but have not been coming for treatment for the past six months due to either death, relocation or because of COVID-19 lockdown or personal decision to stop the treatment, etc.

“The estimated number of deaths is 20,500 from January to June.

“The mistake is from a programmatic language, because ‘lost’ in Monitoring and Evaluation language means ‘lost to follow up’ and not necessarily lost to death.”

Idowu Sowunmi