NACA Uncovers About 3500 Male Sex Workers Within The Abuja City Centre

The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) says its recent finding has identified about 3500 male sex workers within the Abuja city centre.

The agency added that it is worried by this figures because over 60 per cent of these men are married raising the concern of spouse HIV transmission.

At its maiden lecture on Thursday to mark this year’s World AIDS day in Abuja with the theme-
Strategies for Ending AIDS in Nigeria by 2030, the Director General of NACA, Professor John Idoko said the agency is now targeting hotspot areas in its drive to end the HIV epidemic.

Within the Federal Capital Terrritory, we found that if we focus our resources in three council areas of Gwagwalada, Bwari and Abuja Municipal, we would have covered a greater population of persons with HIV within the area,”

Idoko said the agency is developing interventions to be able to reduce contact between infected and uninfected persons.

In his lecture, Professor James Blanchard, director of Global Health at the University of Manitoba, Canada said that even with modern technologies, HIV prevention is a very complex thing because there are social factors that needs to be addressed like political commitment and advocacy, laws and labour policies, community mobilisation and a host of other things.

He said Nigerian is a very large and complex country and reaching those who need to receive the treatment requires that the country focus on the right environment and high risk areas.

“We need to match our HIV interventions with the population of HIV distribution. We need to get down to the micro level to know where we put our resources. We have the sex workers, persons who inject drugs and men who have sex with men,” he said.

He explained that NACA survey has identified eight priority states in Nigeria becaus HIV is not evenly distributed adding that there are very large population in parts of FCT, Lagos, Nasarawa and Benue.

He said “We found that in Benue, 60 per cent of men who visited bars, restaurants and hotels were seeking sexual partners while 12 per cent of the females were seeking sexual partners and 9 percent of those who patronise these places are female sex workers.

“We also saw substantial risk behaviour in rural areas. In Benue, 30 per cent of the unmarried men had visited a worker and 18 per cent had visited a sex workers within the last one month. But this was not the same across state as some places were high risk areas.”

Also, a high proportion of married women in the NACA study reported having more then one sexual partner in Cross River and Benue within the last six months.

“We need to recognise that Nigeria a high mixed epidemic with a large number of female sex workers and high causal and female sex workers in urban areas,” Blanchard said.

According to him, Nigeria need to think of how it can cover its key population particularly the sex workers through intensified outreaches, condom programming, intensifying treatment and testing programme.

“We need to think of structural programmes to reduce stigma, to reduce vulnerability and violence for sex workers. We should focus our interventions in urban hotspot rather than thinking of a general flood irrigation approach,” he added.