US spends about $6b on HIV/AIDS support to Nigeria in 18 years

No fewer than 1.2million Nigerians are currently receiving free HIV/AIDS treatment for life on the bill of the US government.

Additionally, since 2003, at least not less than $6billion worth of assistance has been provided to Nigeria to fight HIV/AIDS in the country by the American government.

The disclosures were made on Wednesday by the US Consul General in Nigeria, Claire Pierangelo at the launching of the Oyo State Antiretroviral Surge Response which held at the Emeritus Professor Theophilus Ogunlesi Hall, Ibadan.

The event, an initiative of the APIN Public health Initiative in collaboration with the Oyo State Government and the US government, is to officially kick off an accelerated testing plan to identify people living with HIV and place them on treatment.

Speaking, Pierangelo said the US government is collaborating with the Oyo state government to scale up the number of those currently receiving HIV/AIDS treatment to end the epidemic in the state and the country at large.

She said “We are happy to be here in Oyo state for the launch of the ART Surge which is designed to partner with Oyo state government in finding and treating HIV positive patients in the state.

“It is a wonderful initiative with many aspects of cooperation, but the bottomline is that, we need to find and treat HIV patients, so we are very grateful for our friends here in Oyo state for the cooperation that we are getting.

“Since 2003, the US government has provided up to $6billion worth of assistance to Nigeria to fight HIV/AIDS.

“Currently, 1.2million Nigerians are receiving free treatment for life and our goal is to increase that number as much as possible so that we can end the epidemic here in Nigeria and the cooperation between the US government, the Nigeria government and the Oyo state government is the key of doing that.”

Also speaking the Country Director, US Centre for Disease Control, Dr Mary Boyd said the US government is Nigeria and the US government has been partnering on putting people living with HIV on treatm

ent for atleast 18years and “this is another phase in our partnership, where we are now trying to find those remaining individuals who are infected and don’t have access to treatment.”

In his remark, Governor Seyi Makinde who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun noted that the HIV Treatment Surge Light Launch is expected to increase awareness of communities and health care providers on the need for women of reproductive age group, children, adolescents to get tested for HIV.

He added that the effort is aimed at increasing HIV case finding by testing across all 33LGAs in a strategic way and linking those positive to free treatment, adding that it is geared towards achieving HIV epidemic control in Oyo state by year 2030.

In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer, APIN Public Health Initiative, Dr Prosper Okonkwo explained that the essence of the launch of ART Surge is to close the gaps of patients who are yet to be tested and place on treatment.

He said “The point is that we have been doing HIV work in Nigeria for over 20years and we have made considerable progress but we think we now know where we are, we know what the gaps are and we know what surge means like in basic English language which is to accelerate.

“So, we are accelerating so that the gaps of patients that are yet to be put on treatment, we can reduce.

The war against the spread is gradually being won because looking at where we were when we started and where we are now, a lot has been done. And we think we are learning a lot and we want to use things that we have learnt to really speed up things and close the gap.

“Until the last person is free, nobody is free. A lot has been done but we are just trying to close the gap of what is left.

“We are here to launch a surge up of our activities in tackling the spread. It took us 20 years to get 24,000, we need to get 23,000 more and we don’t want to wait for another 20 years, we want to do that in maybe two years. It is the activities that is surging, not the HIV.”

Fielding questions, the Lead Prevention and Community Programme, APIN, Mrs Bola Thompson, said the campaign is aimed at scaling up testing activities in the state.

She added that the government is committed to identifying the about 75,000 people living with HIV and ensure they are placed on treatment and ensure that “we continue to follow them up to ensure that they are virally suppressed.”

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