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‘FG committed to curbing new HIV cases’

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Distribution of Oraquiq HIV self-test kit to participants at the 2019 World AIDS Day event in Abuja…at the weekend.<br />

The Federal Government has expressed its commitment to review, develop policies and bring up innovations on Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) programmes and services to reduce new infections in the country.

Over 1.1 million People Living with HIV (PLHIV) are receiving Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) in the various clinics around country, and over 50,000 of them are children.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, at a briefing to mark the World AIDS Day in Abuja yesterday, observed that government was redoubling efforts to reduce new HIV infections by mobilising additional resources, re-designing and strengthening prevention programmes.

He emphasised that HIV prevention and treatment initiatives needed to be sustained and the momentum increased if the world was to end AIDS by 2030.

Ehanire noted that the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) in 2018 provided evidence that the national HIV prevalence was on the downward trend, pointing out states with the largest unmet treatment needs.

He stated that successive governments in the country, with the support of partners and other stakeholders, had made significant effort to control the HIV epidemic by providing quality care and treatment interventions.

Averting new infections and improving the lives of PLHIV have been achieved by establishing and scaling up numerous interventions and infection prevention and control services, including HIV Testing Services (HTS), post-exposure prophylaxis, condom promotion and distribution, elimination of mother-to-child transmission (eMTCT) among others, he noted.

The minister added that the National Treatment and Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme under the Federal Ministry of Health had been strengthened to coordinate the health sector’s response.

He said, “The onus is on us to ensure that we pay adequate attention and commit sufficient resources to both prevention and treatment. It is important not to lose track of the gains we have made in the past two decades towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”

To reduce stigma and spread of HIV, medical experts have urged the youths to embrace self-testing.

Dr. Juliet Iwelumo of St Lious University United States, at HIV awareness programme organised by Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, to mark the World AIDS Day, noted that the theme of this year’s celebration was to engage the key stakeholders to join hands and fight the ailment.

Also, Director of Research, NIMR, Dr. Oliver Ezechi, disclosed that the institute, which had been involved in the fight against HIV over the years, was managing over 25,000 patients.

However, he said that HIV prevalence had dropped in Nigeria while the young were more infected.

“This entails ensuring that 90 per cent of estimated PLHIV actually know their status, 90 per cent of those who know their status are on ART and 90 per cent of those on ART are virally suppressed.”


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