Nigerian govt yet to redeem commitment to persons living with HIV – Group

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A group, Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), has called on the federal government to fast-track its commitment to procuring life-saving anti-retrovirals for Persons Living With HIV (PLWHIV) in the country.

The National Coordinator of NEPWHAN, Abdulkadir Ibrahim, in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday, said the availability of these drugs and HIV test kits is crucial to achieving the 90-90-90 goals which Nigeria failed to meet.

The UNAIDS – and other foreign partners had in 2014 launched the 90-90-90 strategy which is an ambitious target to help end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

The aim was to diagnose 90 per cent of all HIV positive persons, provide Antiretroviral Therapy (ARTs) for 90 per cent of those diagnosed, and achieve viral load suppression for 90 per cent of those treated by 2020.

Strides

At the dawn of the deadline, about 60 per cent of the people living with the virus in Nigeria were on treatment, data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows.

While the 60 per cent is already showing a deficit of about 30 percentage points going by the 2020 target, Nigeria is off-track in other focus areas such as “90 per cent of the population knowing their status at the end of the deadline”.

A recent analysis by PREMIUM TIMES explained in details some factors that may have contributed to Nigeria’s failure to meet this target.

Some of the factors include the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been largely blamed for disrupting several global health targets, prevalence of mother to child transmission, HIV funding, stigma and discrimination, lack of awareness, amongst others.

Commitment

Mr Ibrahim said for the country to still meet these goals, the government must provide drugs for PLWHIV and tests kits to ensure more people get tested.

“These goals cannot be achieved without the government’s commitment to procure from domestic resources adequate test kits so that more Nigerians can be tested and those who test positive placed on lifesaving HIV treatment,” he said.

Mr Ibrahim also noted that approvals by the Federal Ministry of Health should not be delayed in providing treatment for PLWHIV as part of government’s efforts to meeting its co-financing and counterparts funding requirements

“We are currently talking with the Federal Ministry of Health to fast track the release of available resources in the Ministry to procure HIV drugs and test kits to keep Nigerians living with HIV alive,” he said.

He added: “we hope by end of next week, approval and release will be granted by the Minister of Health and his team to redeem Nigeria’s commitment and respect in the eyes of the international community.”

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