Nosa Akenzua, Asaba
The United States Government is concerned about the negative effect of user-fees charged to People Living with HIV (PLHIV) by healthcare facilities in Nigeria
These fees include charges for non-essential services like registration fees, initial lab investigations, or those that are already covered by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). As a result of this user-fee charge, PLHIV are finding it difficult to access treatment.
The U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Kathleen FitzGibbon, raised this concern when she led a delegation on a courtesy call on the Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, as the state launches the U.S supported Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) Surge. During the visit, Ms. FitzGibbon urged the governor to ensure the immediate elimination of the user-fees. She said there is a need for a rapid and sustained effort to identify and put PLHIV on life-saving ART. This effort will ensure that the PLHIV live a long, normal, productive, and healthy life and it will help in breaking the transmission of the virus.
Ms. FitzGibbon also pledged the U.S. Government’s support to the people of Delta State especially in the identification and provision of treatment to approximately 63,000 people living with HIV, in addition to the over 17,500 people already receiving such treatment through the PEPFAR program in the state. She also requested that Governor Okowa prioritize the procurement of additional HIV test kits to support the current PEPFAR initiated surge efforts. The additional test kits are necessary for identifying PLHIV in various communities in Delta and help in moving the state towards HIV epidemic control by September 2020.
The PEPFAR program administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is implementing an ART surge program in Delta State to rapidly identify and provide treatment to approximately 63,000 people living with HIV who have not previously received such treatment. The recent data released from the U.S.-supported Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) revealed that there are approximately 1.9 million people still living with the virus in Nigeria, with about 81,000 people in Delta State. These people require appropriate medical treatment to live a normal, productive, and healthy life.
The U.S. Government recently announced the launch of an ART Surge to support Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Enugu, Lagos, Nasarawa, and Imo States. The program is designed to put an additional 500,000 people living with HIV on treatment. Currently, there are more than 800,000 people on treatment as part of the overall PEPFAR intervention.
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