Make HIV treatment free, U.S., APIN charge Ondo State government
The United States (U.S.) The government has reiterated the need for the Ondo State Government to scale up the prevention of new HIV infection across the 18 local councils of the state.
It also insisted that drugs that had already been subsidised by the U.S. government should be given to HIV patients at no cost, saying this will catalyse a rise in the treatment and cure of the virus.
The U.S. Consul-General, Mrs. Claire Pierengelo, said this, yesterday, in Akure during the official launch of the Ondo State HIV treatment surge programme,
She said that the U.S. government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), had invested more than $85 billion in the global HIV/AIDS response, saving more than 17 million lives across 54 PEPFAR-supported countries.
“Today, we are in Akure, Ondo State, to formally launch the Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) Surge programme. This programme is helping to identify people living with HIV and place those newly identified on free life-saving treatment.
“It is also helping to retain those already receiving treatment. Both efforts are needed for better treatment outcomes and improved quality of life for those affected.”
The U.S. Consul-General urged Ondo State Government to eliminate all user fees charged by healthcare facilities for non-essential services or those already provided by PEPFAR, which is a barrier for people living with HIV who want to access PEPFAR supported HIV services, adding: “I would like to implore the government to support the state HIV programme with additional test kits to supplement the U.S. procurement of over 77,000 test kits for Ondo State.
“Providing the kits will help Ondo State maintain its ART coverage and ensure the state government’s sustainability of managing the programme.”
IN the same vein, Chief Executive Officer of APIN Public Health Initiatives, Dr. Prosper Okonkwo, said that the group had received CDC/PEPFAR funding to provide steady HIV care services to 12,607 people living with HIV.
Okonkwo, who noted that the beneficiaries were currently receiving antiretroviral therapy in 30 supported health facilities across 17 local councils, implored the state government to intensify efforts on HIV stigmatisation campaign to achieve the 62 patients weekly target and scaling up efforts for the patients to access life-saving drugs freely.
ONDO State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, lauded the U.S. Government, APIN, CDC and other stakeholders for their support in the health sector.
Akeredolu, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Oladunni Odu, pledged continued collaboration with the support groups to drastically reduce HIV/AIDS scourge in the state.
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