A private U.S. based organization has granted Nigeria $260,000 to help fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said Saturday that the money is for five prevention programs administered through its AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria.
The grant was announced during a one-day forum in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, attended by President Olusegun Obasanjo, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, and Bill Gates, Sr., father of the founder of computer software giant Microsoft.
In his welcoming remarks, President Obasanjo said there are more than 3.5 million Nigerians, young and productive members of society, who are infected with the HIV virus. He said the real figure, in his words, is rising by the minute.
The director of the AIDS Prevention Initiative, Phyllis Kanki, said in a statement on the organization's website that Nigeria is at a critical point, with an HIV infection rate of 5.8 percent.
She says action taken today to prevent the spread of HIV is critical to ensuring that Nigeria follows the example of Uganda, Senegal, and other nations that have controlled and even reversed infection rates.
Over the past year, the initiative has funded $3 million in programs in three Nigerian states (Plateau, Oyo, and Lagos) and has supported many nationwide programs.