By Joseph Erunke – Abuja
A group, Civil Society for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, CiSHAN, has said about 900,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS in the country are not traceable.
The group’s Executive Secretary, Mr Walter Ugwocha, speaking Tuesday, at a virtual media round table in Abuja, to flag off the commencement of the national campaign for HIV self-testing in the six geopolitical zones of the country, also said based on the 2018 Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey, Nigeria was lagging behind in achieving the 1st 95 of the 95-95-95 target by 2030.
Explaining that the campaign was focused on creating awareness and demand for HIV self-testing, identification, and early treatment of newly diagnosed HIV positive individuals, he said it was also geared towards the mandate of reaching about 10 million people with HIV self-testing kits by the end of 2020.
He urged federal, state governments, relevant agencies, and development partners to as a matter of urgency disseminate HIV Self Testing guidelines and increase their level of support by procuring HIV self-testing kits and making it available in public settings and at communities to boost access to HIV testing.
In his words: “Out of the 1.9million people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, about 900,000 are yet to show up for treatment and are currently unaccounted for.
“We will be going to a state in each of the geo-political zones; Kogi, Delta, Gombe, Kaduna, Abia, and Lagos, to help close the existing HIV testing gap.
“The COVID-19 lockdown significantly decreased access of community members general, key, and vulnerable population to HIV testing. Prior to the lockdown, there had been challenges with thinking around how to address the gap with populations’ access to HIV testing and identifying the unreached HIV positive population.
“The need to evolve community-driven HIV testing strategies was further re-affirmed by the anecdotal field reports by CISHAN during the lockdown.”