By Luminous Jannamike

ABUJA – Adolescents and youths living with HIV in Nigeria have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to take urgent steps in addressing the challenges confronting the nation’s HIV response agenda which prevent them from accessing treatment services.

HIV

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The adolescents, under the aegis of Association of Positive Youth living with HIV in Nigeria (APYIN), lamented that many of their members have been compelled to skip medical appointments owing to extortionist tendencies on the part of service providers and the poor psychosocial support available to them at treatment centres.

Speaking with reporters on Friday in Abuja, APYIN National Coordinator, Isah Mohammed, said: “The government of Nigeria signed an agreement with the US Government to provide counterpart funding of 25% for the HIV treatment and care but did not live up to this agreement. This has affected the provision of some laboratory services like chemistry and creatinine testing.

“The treatment and care service providers have now used this as a window to charge fees for services, including consultancy and routine testing like CD4 Count Testing which are free in the program. This is extortion. Especially, since the Minister of Health has declared in several forums and times that HIV services are free in Nigeria.

“Many adolescents and youth living with HIV, especially the vulnerable  and unemployed ones have resorted to skipping clinic appointments because of high medical bills.

“Added to that, relevant psychosocial interventions that could address the emotional and psychological issues affecting the adolescents living with HIV are under-prioritized or completely left out in the treatment plan.

“This is therefore a call to the government of President Buhari to save our souls by redeeming its pledges in funding agreements with partners and releasing the 1% Consolidated Revenue Fund for Health Programs.

“We call on the Honourable Minister of Health to ensure that his pronouncement of free HIV services is met with quality oversight so that the services are truly free.

“We also call on the people of Nigeria in this period of elections to use their PVC’s to demand for quality care for adolescents and youth living with HIV.”

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