NGO commends govts for scaling up prevention services for HIV, AIDS

THE Country Director, Heartland Alliance International (HAI), Mr Batholomew Ochonye, on Monday, commended the Federal, States and Local Governments for scaling up prevention services for HIV and AIDS.

Ochonye, in an interview, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that some states of the federation had taken over the bills for treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS.

NAN reports that HAI is an International Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), based in Nigeria engaged in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“Some states like Akwa Ibom and Rivers governors have officially paid for treatment fees for people living with HIV in hospitals,’’ he said.

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The Director of HAI who expressed satisfaction with the development said that the number of people living with HIV had dropped from 3.5m to about 1.9m based on the Nigeria AIDS Indicator Impact Survey (NAISS) report released on March 2019.

According to him, the prevalence of HIV among adults from ages 15 to 49 is reduced from 3.4 per cent to 1.4 per cent while new infections increased from over 120,000 to 130,000 between 2010 and 2029.

Ochonye said that the number of deaths due to AIDS and AIDS-related complications had reduced by 26 per cent from 72,000 to 53,000 in 2010.

The HAI Country Director said that the country’s progress so far made in terms of the UNAIDS target of 90-90-90, saying that the country was on track.

Joint UN Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) 90:90:90 for 2020 means by 2020, 90 per cent of people living with HIV would know their status.

And 90 per cent of those who know their status would be accessing lifesaving antiretroviral therapy and 90 per cent of those on treatment would attain viral suppression.

Ochonye said that scientific evidence indicated that once a person had the undetectable virus in the system, that is, has been on the anti-retroviral treatment for some time, he cannot transmit the virus to another person.

He called for more investment by governments at all levels, in the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS if the country were to make accelerated achievement.

Ochonye frowned at the low level of access to treatment by people living with HIV/AIDS and stressed on the need for the country to achieve 95 per cent treatment level, which was the current expected standard.

The Director, however, advocated that pregnant women be allowed access to free prevention of “parent to child transmission services’’ in hospitals.

He reiterated the need for intensive care, for mothers, calling for friendly sexual and reproductive health services in all states of Nigeria.

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