Aisha Buhari, wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, has been appointed by the Joint UN Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) as UNAIDS Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and Promotion of Treatment for Children living with HIV in Nigeria.
Buhari had previously stated her commitment to ending mother-to-child transmission of HIV in the country, and to getting more mothers on treatment in order to eliminate transmission of the virus to newborns.
A formal ceremony to commemorate Mrs Buhari’s acceptance of her appointment will take place during the visit of UNAIDS Executive-Director, Mr. Micheal Sidibé to Abuja, Nigeria, during April.
“It is with a great sense of responsibility and humility that I accept the honour to serve as a UNAIDS Special Ambassador," she said. "I am looking forward to using my voice to help ensure that no child is born with HIV in Nigeria by 2020."
Nigeria has one of the highest rates of new HIV infections among children in the world.
In 2016, an estimated 37 000 children were newly infected with HIV and 24 000 children died of AIDS-related illnesses.
Around 270 000 children were living with HIV in 2016, and just 32% of pregnant women living with HIV had access to antiretroviral medicines to prevent transmitting the virus to their child.
“I am privileged to announce Aisha Muhammadu Buhari’s acceptance of the appointment as UNAIDS Special Ambassador for Nigeria. The trust and respect that she commands in the country will help us to quicken the pace of stopping new HIV infections among children as well as ensuring treatment for all children living with HIV,” said Sidibé.
The appointment of Mrs. Buhari will reinforce recent efforts to scale up the response to HIV in Nigeria.
In December 2016, President Buhari, launched a Fast-Track plan that includes using domestic resources to maintain 60 000 people living with HIV on treatment and to ensure that an additional 50 000 people can access treatment each year.