How the next generation can be HIV free —Idogho
Dr Omokhudu Idogho is the Managing Director of the Society for Family Health. In this interview with TADE MAKINDE, the reproductive health expert speaks on the obstacles and successes of the agency in combating HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. Excerpts
WHAT could be responsible for the reduction of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria?
Nigeria has shown steady progress in achieving the 90:90:90 UNAIDS target by increasing access to treatment for People Living with HIV, with the adoption of a test and treat policy in 2016. The consolidated guidelines for preventing and treating HIV infection adopted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2016, applies Differentiated Service Delivery (DSD) of HIV care to increase service efficiencies and impact. This is a people-centred approach that simplifies and adapts HIV services to reflect the preferences and expectations of different communities living with HIV. A lot of efforts have also been put in place to ensure that prevention services are continuously offered, especially with the new focus on treatment as prevention, increasing the awareness of the disease through education, improving access to quality HIV services including testing services and encourage adherence to treatment plans leading to viral suppression.
What are the major obstacles facing SFH in educating people as regards the disease?
The biggest is still that of stigma and discrimination. This continues to limit uptake of services by communities
What advice do you have for those who still have the virus
Everyone still infected with HIV needs to get treatment, especially those with pregnancy, so that they can suppress the virus. We are doing our best to ensure pregnant women have access to antenatal services and are tested during every pregnancy. That way, we can be sure that there will be a drastic reduction in babies with HIV. What that means for the next generation is that they will be HIV-free.
Is it true that USAID has stopped giving grants/aids to Nigeria?
Our understanding is that USAID remains a valuable and critical partner to Nigeria as regards HIV. To the best of my knowledge, USAID still continues to give grants to support the full spectrum of HIV prevention, treatment and care.
What is your organisation’s plan for the future?
SFH has a vision that is aimed at improving health outcomes by ensuring communities have access to affordable, quality health services and commodities without financial hardship. SFH has been a major player in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and has been in the forefront of using evidence-based interventions at the community level to promote access to quality HIV prevention care and treatment services through its projects and Initiatives. We will continue to support the country in reaching the 90:90:90 target by driving innovative step change strategies to deepen evidence-based case finding, improve linkages to and retention in care while pursuing viral suppression within the goal of achieving HIV epidemic control in Nigeria.