The United States Government has said it will continue to support Nigeria in its efforts to end the HIV/AIDS in the country.
The U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, made this known at a workshop on ‘Data Repository as a Resource for Achieving HIV-Epidemic Control’, in Abuja on Thursday.
She said that approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV in Nigeria received support to improve quality of life, including TB/HIV care services.
She also said about 1.3 million orphans and vulnerable children received care and support services in Nigeria.
“HIV/AIDS continues to be a leading cause of death, with over 690,000 people dying from AIDS-related illnesses in 2019.
“The U.S. Government is fighting this disease through treatment and prevention initiatives and expanding access to HIV services for people worldwide. This World AIDS Day, we reaffirm our dedication to the fight to end HIV,” Mr Leonard said.
She noted that despite the threat of COVID-19, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) helped diagnose and provide treatment to 6,000 HIV-infected Nigerians a week in 2020.
“Now, PEPFAR is supporting life-saving treatment to over a million patients and is partnering with the government and people of Nigeria to achieve the epidemic control,” she said.
Ms Leonard said the U.S. government, through PEPFAR, has invested more than $85 billion in the global HIV/AIDS response since 2003.
She also said more than 17 million lives have been saved as a result of these efforts.
She noted that PEPFAR has invested more than $6 billion in the national HIV/AIDS response in Nigeria alone.
“In Nigeria in 2020, more than 8.2 million people have received HIV counselling and testing services; similarly, more than 1.2 million pregnant women received HIV testing and counselling towards prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV,” she said.
While declaring the event open, Nigerian Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the workshop is a timely opportunity to critically examine available data in the country.
He said despite the threats that “COVID-19 posed to our programmes and our targets, it’s a paradox in that it also presented us with an important opportunity for learning and change.
“I’m certain that most of this learning will remain with us even in the post-COVID-19 era,” Mr Ehanire said.
In his remarks, the Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Gambo Aliyu, said that the National Data Repository would go a long way in identifying persons with HIV and placing them on treatment.
The National Data Repository collects data for treatment and laboratory services and completes patient-level data from different electronic medical records existing in the country using a standard algorithm and implementation guide.