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Nigeria: Housing for People Living With HIV/AIDS

Part of the "More Than Just a Roof Over My Head" Booklet

July 2010

The HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Twenty-three years after the first case of HIV appeared in Nigeria, HIV still poses health and development challenges to the country. Nigeria is ranked second in the number of people living with HIV/AIDS (after South Africa), reflecting about 9% of the global HIV burden. HIV prevalence in Nigeria is estimated at 3.6%, with 4.6% prevalence among pregnant women. Based on the 2008 HIV prevalence rate, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) estimates that about 2.95 million people are living with HIV in Nigeria. Of this figure, 833,000 individuals require ARVs. As of March 2009, 267,710 adults and 14,857 children living with HIV were on ARVs. Even though Nigeria's epidemic is generalized, there is a significant disparity of HIV prevalence by geographical location, sex, age and sub-population groups. Prevalence is slightly higher in urban areas (3.8%) than in rural areas (3.5%). HIV prevalence is highest among individuals between 25 and 29 years of age (5.6%) and more women are living with HIV than men (1.72 million females: 1.23 million males). HIV prevalence among sex workers, MSM, and IDUs is higher than the national average of 4.6%. Heterosexual sex is the primary mode of transmission.

Nigeria's multi-sectoral response to HIV, led by NACA, has recorded remarkable achievements by lowering national HIV prevalence from 5.8% in 2001 to 5% in 2003 and 4.4% in 2005. However, this decline was followed by a recent rise to 4.6% in 2008. According to NACA, the drivers of the HIV epidemic in Nigeria include low risk perception, multiple concurrent partners, informal transactional and inter-generational sex, lack of effective services for sexually transmitted infections, gender inequalities, and inadequate health services.

In its country progress report to UNGASS in March 2010, NACA stated that the spread of HIV "promotes poverty."

The Housing Crisis

Nigeria is the largest and most urbanized country in sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 45% of Nigeria's population lives in urban areas; the slum to urban population ratio is 79%. Rapid urbanization is putting stress on the housing supply, which has resulted in overcrowding. In addition, home prices and rents outpace inflation. Rent in major cities represents approximately 60% of an average income. Estimates of the total housing deficit in Nigeria range from 10 to 17 million units. As a result, informal settlement communities have developed across the country.

The Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) has named the Government of Nigeria one of the worst violators of housing rights in the world. In 2008, COHRE reported that over 2 million Nigerians had been forcibly evicted from their homes since 2000; 800,000 of those had been evicted from their homes in informal settlements in Abuja by the Nigerian government from 2003 to 2007 as part of the Abuja Master Plan to move the Federal Capital from Lagos to Nigeria.

The Association of Positive Youth Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria estimates that one out of every three PLWHA in Nigeria resides in slums characterized with poverty and continuous ill health. People living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria face challenges of poor health and quality of life due to overcrowded conditions, poor public services and infrastructure because of their substandard housing. These poor conditions result in increased stigma and discrimination.

Institutional Response & Solutions

Housing conditions in Abuja, Nigeria.

Housing conditions in Abuja, Nigeria.

NACA's HIV/AIDS Policy was revised in 2009 to address emerging issues, including the expansion of orphans and vulnerable children; the stigmatization of PLWHA and human rights violations; and issues associated with increased access to treatment and care. NACA also recognizes that addressing gender inequality is crucial in the control of the epidemic. However, the extreme housing shortage and health disparities associated with living in slums are not recognized as a factor of the HIV/AIDS epidemic or the institutional response.

According to advocates, "making housing work in Nigeria" has become a functional HIV/AIDS advocacy campaign issue. So far, informal and formal meetings have been held with different HIV/AIDS stakeholders regarding housing in Nigeria, and NACA has shown interest in this course of action. There have also been advocacy meetings and sensitizations aimed at individuals and organizations working in the field of health to consider housing as a crucial prevention strategy in the country. The Association of Positive Youth Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (APYIN) organized an advocacy/skills-building session on housing during the 5th HIV/AIDS National Conference in May 2010. APYIN hopes to form a concerned body known as HIV/Housing Group. This group will work hand in hand with the government and other international bodies to realize the goal of housing in the country.

Advocate testimony and photos provided by Daniel Obiomachukwu Peter Onyeigwe of the Association of Positive Youth Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.


Centre On Housing Rights and Evictions, The Myth of the Abuja Master Plan: Forced Evictions as Urban Planning in Abuja, 2008.

Kabir, Bala and S.A. Bustani (Ahmadu Bello University), A Review of Housing Delivery Efforts in Nigeria, 2008.

National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Integrated Biological and Behavioral Surveillance Survey, 2007.

UNGASS Country Progress Report: Nigeria, 2010.

UN-Habitat, Nigeria Statistical Overview, 2010.

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This article was provided by National AIDS Housing Coalition. Visit NAHC's website to find out more about their activities and publications.
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