The U.S. government is set to identify and place an additional 45,000 People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Oyo and Ondo states on life-saving anti-retroviral treatment as part of efforts to move Nigeria towards HIV epidemic control.
The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is providing HIV treatment to more than 23,000 PLHIV in Oyo State and over 12,000 PLHIV in Ondo state.
United States Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, disclosed this during the launch of the HIV Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) Surge programmes in Oyo and Ondo states, on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
A press statement by the U.S Consulate General, Public Relations Sector, Friday, said,
“The PEPFAR Anti-retroviral Treatment (ART) Surge program 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.
The statement read in part, “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 U.S. government through the PEPFAR program.
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 removal of antenatal care charges for pregnant women living with the virus.
In Oyo state, Consul General met with the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun, who represented Oyo state Governor, Seyi Makinde.
“They discussed the U.S. 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,” the statement said.
While in Ibadan, the Consul General also visited the University College Hospital where she toured the U.S. CDC-supported ART clinic, as well as interacted with program beneficiaries and management staff of the facility.
“Pierangelo requested Oyo and Ondo state governments to prioritize 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 counseling and testing services in Nigeria. In each week of 2020, the U.S. government, through PEPFAR helped place 6,000 newly identified HIV-infected Nigerians on treatment, while also supporting quality HIV services for over one million HIV-infected Nigerians already in PEPFAR-supported care.
“Furthermore, more than 1.2 million pregnant women received HIV testing and counseling to prevent mother-to-child transmission, and about 1.3 million orphans and vulnerable children received PEPFAR-supported care and supportive services.
“In Nigeria alone, the U.S. government has invested more than $6 billion in the national HIV/AIDS response, toward supporting both national and state governments to identify and treat people living with HIV,” it added.