By Sola Ogundipe
TOWARDS ensuring that 15 million People Living With HIV/AIDS, PLWA, in Nigeria and other African countries who require comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment have access to it by 2015, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, has launched a new strategy tagged “UNAIDS Treatment 2015 Initiative”.
The initiative outlines three fundamental pillars essential to reaching the 2015 target increasing demand for HIV testing and treatment services; mobilising resources and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of spending; and ensuring more people have access to antiretroviral therapy, came on the heels of reports by the World Health Organisation that average life expectancy for People Living With HIV/AIDS is 78 years,
‘Treatment 2015’ takes into account the new consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral, ARV, drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection just released by the World Health Organization recommending that people living with HIV start antiretroviral therapy, ART much earlier.
Launching the initiative at the International Conference Center, Abuja, as part of the official programme of the on-going Special Summit on HIV/AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria, UNAIDS Executive Director, Mr. Michel Sidibe, said HIV/AIDS treatment was about lives of people and making effective health delivery available to those who need it.
“No preventable death such as HIV/AIDS should continue to occur in Africa and the world in general . Reaching the 2015 target will be a critical milestone. Countries and partners need to urgently and strategically invest resources and efforts to ensure that everyone has access to HIV prevention and treatment services,” Sidibe remarked.
Minister of Health, Professor C.O. Onyebuchi Chukwu,said the new treatment initiative is designed to enable People Living With HIV/AIDS to live longer and healthier lives and prevent new infections, by empowering countries and partners to come up with practical and innovative ways of increasing the number of people accessing treatment.
Chukwu, who gave the national perspective of the HIV/AIDS situation in the country, said the system needed to be revamped. “Emphasis is now that everyone must be on treatment and that those on treatment must complete it. HIV/AIDS is just a chronic disease and should be treated as such.