By Elizabeth Uwandu
In a bid to provide appropriate medical treatment for persons living with HIV (PLHIV), the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), U.S. Department of Defense, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Tuesday expressed its readiness to budget about $75 million to fight HIV in Nigeria, with about $25 million allocated for the Anti-Retroviral Treatment ART.
This was disclosed recently when Ambassador W. Stuart Symington and some US delegates paid Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike, a visit at Government House, Port-Harcourt.
According to the Ambassador, the visit was to identify and provide treatment to approximately 180,000 PLHIV who have not previously received such.
Ambassador Symington, who thanked Governor Wike for announcing his intent to eliminate user-fees for PLHIV, said the delegates were in Rivers state to do the following; advocate for elimination of user-fees for all people living with HIV; antenatal care charges for pregnant women living with the virus, and other barriers hindering PLHIV from accessing health services.
Noting that the increased funding to make anti-retrovirals available would enable more people living with HIV to lead healthy, productive lives until the day a cure for the virus is found, Mr Symington explained that, “The United States remains committed to supporting Nigeria as it works to reduce and ultimately eliminate the scourge of HIV/AIDS among its people,” Ambassador Symington said. He noted
He added that disbursement of the additional PEPFAR HIV funds are contingent upon Nigerian federal and state governments reducing or eliminating financial barriers to PLHIV access to services, in particular fees charged by healthcare facilities for non-essential services or those already provided by PEPFAR.