By Sola Ogundipe
The US government will identify and place an additional 45,000 People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Oyo and Ondo states on life-saving antiretroviral treatment as part of efforts to move Nigeria towards HIV epidemic control.
More than 23,000 of the beneficiaries are in Oyo State and over 12,000 in Ondo State.
The United States Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, who disclosed this during the launch of the HIV Antiretroviral Treatment, ART, Surge programmes in Oyo and Ondo States last week, said the treatment was being provided by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, administered by the US Centres for Disease Control, CDC.
“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,” Pierangelo remarked.
Speaking during a courtesy and advocacy visit to the Ondo State Government House, Pierangelo highlighted the negative effect of user-fees as a major barrier to PLHIV accessing treatment and urged the elimination of such fees while advocating for removal of antenatal care charges for pregnant women living with the virus.
Pierangelo requested the Oyo and Ondo state governments to prioritise the procurement of additional HIV test kits to support the current PEPFAR efforts.
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 1 million HIV-infected Nigerians already in PEPFAR-supported care.
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 US 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.
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