…$85 billion invested globally
By Dayo Johnson – Akure
The United States of America has invested more than $6 billion in the fight against HIV/ AIDS in Nigeria and contributed to saving more than 17 million lives across 54 countries.
United States Consul-General Claire Pierengel said this during the official launch of the Ondo State HIV treatment Surge Launch.
According to him ” Since 2003, the U.S. government, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, has invested more than $85 billion in the global HIV/ AIDS response and has contributed to saving more than 17 million lives across 54 PEPFAR-supported countries.
“In Nigeria alone, PEPF AR has invested more than $6 billion in the national HIV/ AIDS response, toward supporting both national and state governments to identify and treat people living with HIV.
“Despite these efforts, we are currently at a crossroads in the HIV response around the world and in Nigeria.
“HIV/ AIDS continues to be a leading cause of death globally, with over 3 8 million people living with HIV worldwide, and almost 700,000 people dying from AIDS-related illnesses in 2019.
” ln Nigeria alone, about 1.9 million people are currently living with HIV, with more than 44,000 deaths linked to the disease in 2019.
“The U.S. government has further supported the Government of Nigeria since 2019 to rapidly increase the number of people living with HIV who are receiving life-saving HIV treatment, greatly reducing HIV-related sickness and deaths, as well as preventing new infections.
“In 2020, more than 8.2 million people received PEPFAR-supported HIV counseling and testing services in Nigeria. In each week of 2020, PEPF AR helped place 6,000 newly identified HIV-infected Nigerians on treatment, while also supporting quality HIV services for over 1 million HIV- infected Nigerians already in PEPF AR-supported care.
According to him more than 1.2 million pregnant women received HIV testing and counseling to prevent mother-to-child transmission, and about 1.3 million orphans and vulnerable
children received PEPF AR-supported care and supportive services.
“Here in Ondo state, by the end of March 2021 there were over 12,000 people living with HIV that were receiving PEPF AR-supported treatment.
She urged the Ondo State government to eliminate all user fees charged by healthcare facilities for non-essential services or those already provided by PEPF AR, which is a barrier for people living with HIV who want to access PEPF AR supported HIV services.
” By eliminating such user fees, the Government will increase demand and ensure more efficient utilization of services provided by PEPFAR, which will lead to our mutual goal of HIV epidemic control in Ondo State.
“I would like to implore the Government to support the state HIV program with additional test kits to supplement the United States’ procurement of over 77,000 test kits for Ondo State.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu speaking through the Secretary to the State Government SSG, Princess Oladunni Odu said that the state HIV prevalence is 1.1% which is lower than the National average prevalence of 1.4%.
Akeredolu said that his administration was determined to put a stop to all forms of preventable morbidity and mortality.
He added that ” we shall leave no stone unturned until Ondo state becomes HIV/ AIDS competent and ultimately HIV free of new infections that the disease is no longer a threat to our collective wellbeing and survival.