US govt spends $6bn to fight HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, says envoy

The United States Deputy Chief Mission to Nigeria, Ms Kathleen FitzGibbon, has disclosed that the United States, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has invested more than $6 billion in the fight to end HIV/AIDS in Nigeria since 2003.

FitzGibbon disclosed this in Abeokuta, Ogun State, during the launch of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Surge Response in the state in collaboration with AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria (APIN).

The ART Surge light campaign was conceptualised by US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to put about 20,200 people living with HIV (PLHIV) on life-saving anti-retroviral therapy by September 30, 2021 in the state.

She said that the US government diagnosed and provided weekly treatment to not less than 6,000 Nigerians living with HIV.

According to her, in 2020, more than 1.2 million pregnant women received HIV testing and counseling towards prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

She explained that the PEPFAR’s support in Nigeria’s policy development, human capacity and overarching health systems including provision of laboratories and pharmaceutical warehouses, was meant to enhance Nigeria’s health systems to tackle HIV/AIDS and other viral diseases.

“Since 2003, the US government, through PEPFAR, has invested more than $85 billion in the global HIV/AIDS response and has contributed to saving more than 17 million lives across the 54 countries supported.

“In Nigeria alone, PEPFAR has invested more than $6 billion in the national HIV/AIDS response.

“Despite the progress made, HIV/AIDS continues to be a leading cause of death globally, with over 690,000 people dying from AIDS related illness in 2019 and over 38 million people living with HIV worldwide.

“The US government is supporting government of Nigeria in the fight against this disease through treatment and prevention initiatives and increased access to HIV services for people worldwide. It is for this reason that the ART Surge has been implemented in Nigeria and Ogun,” she said.

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