A report released by UNICEF on Tuesday ahead of World AIDS Day on 1 December, disclosed that another 120,000 children died from AIDS-related causes during the same period, or one child every five minutes.
According to the report, in Nigeria, 20,695 children aged 0-9 years were newly infected with HIV in 2020 or one child every 30 minutes.
The latest HIV and AIDS Global Snapshot warned that a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic is deepening the inequalities that have long driven the HIV epidemic, putting vulnerable children, adolescents, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers at increased risk of missing life-saving HIV prevention and treatment services.
According to the report in Nigeria, about 30 per cent of AIDS-related deaths in 2020 occurred in children.
The report also said in Nigeria, almost eight out of ten new infections occurring in adolescents aged 10-19 occur in adolescent girls, while an estimated 83,000 pregnant women in Nigeria are HIV positive. Only 44 per cent of them are on antiretroviral treatment (ART), risking continued mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
The report however noted that many countries saw significant disruptions in HIV services due to COVID-19 in early 2020. HIV infant testing in high burden countries declined by 50 to 70 per cent, with new treatment initiations for children under 14 years of age falling by 25 to 50 per cent.
It revealed that Nigeria has the highest number of children and adolescents aged 0-19 years living with HIV in West and Central Africa, with an estimate of 190,000.
UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Peter Hawkins said: “Children and adolescents continue to be left behind in the HIV response around the world.
In Nigeria, teenage girls also bear the heaviest burden.
We must increase and sustain HIV investments to ensure children are born free of HIV and stay HIV-free throughout childhood and adolescence.”