The United States Government has announced that it will be placing another batch of 45,000 People Living with HIV in Oyo and Ondo states on life-saving antiretroviral treatment as part of efforts to move Nigeria towards HIV epidemic control.
The US government noted that the HIV treatment would not only reduce HIV-related illnesses and death but also help to prevent new infections.
According to a release on Friday, this will be achieved through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which is administered by the US Centre for Disease Control.
The CDC is providing HIV treatment to more than 23,000 HIV residents in Oyo State and over 12,000 in Ondo State.
The US Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, disclosed this during the launch of the HIV Antiretroviral Treatment Surge programmes in the two states which held on Wednesday and Thursday.
“The PEPFAR Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) Surge programme identifies people living with HIV and places them on treatment for life. HIV treatment not only reduces HIV-related illnesses and death but also helps prevent new infections,” Consul General Pierangelo remarked.
Speaking during a courtesy and advocacy visit to the Ondo State Government House, Consul General Pierangelo thanked Deputy Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa and senior members of the administration for their commitment to work with all stakeholders, as the state implements the PEPFAR ART Surge.
She urged the Ondo State Government to remove all barriers hindering people living with HIV from accessing free services offered by the US government through the PEPFAR programme. Specifically, she highlighted the negative effect of user-fees as a major barrier to PLHIV accessing treatment and urged the elimination of such fees.
In addition, she advocated the removal of antenatal care charges for pregnant women living with the virus.
In Oyo State, Consul General Pierangelo met with the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun, who represented Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde.
They discussed the US government’s PEPFAR support in Nigeria’s policy development, human capacity building, and strengthening health systems, including the provision of state-of-the-art laboratories and pharmaceutical warehouses.
While in Ibadan, the Consul General also visited the University College Hospital where she toured the US CDC-supported ART clinic, as well as interacted with programme beneficiaries and management staff of the facility.
Consul General Pierangelo requested Oyo and Ondo state governments to prioritise the procurement of additional HIV test kits to support the current PEPFAR efforts.
The additional test kits are necessary for identifying PLHIV in various communities, and the rapid and sustained effort to put them on life-saving medications. This effort will ensure that they live normal, productive, and healthy lives, and break virus transmission.
In 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 8.2 million people received PEPFAR-supported HIV counselling and testing services in Nigeria.
In each week of 2020, the US government, through PEPFAR helped place 6,000 newly identified HIV-infected Nigerians on treatment, while also supporting quality HIV services for over 1 million HIV-infected Nigerians already in PEPFAR-supported care.
Furthermore, more than 1.2 million pregnant women received HIV testing and counselling to prevent mother-to-child transmission, and about 1.3 million orphans and vulnerable children received PEPFAR-supported care and supportive services.