Over 720,000 Nigerians living with HIV are currently being provided with free treatment by the United States government, according to a statement by the Public Affairs Section of the US Consulate General, Lagos.
This was made known by the Acting Public Affairs Officer of the US Consulate General, Kevin Krapf, during his speech in commemoration of the 2017 World AIDS Day held at the Lagos State University College of Medicine. Speaking on the theme, “Increasing impact through transparency, accountability and partnerships,” Krapf pointed out that in 2017 alone, about four million Nigerians had received free HIV counselling and testing services through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
He explained that the gestures were a reflection of the US government’s “longstanding” leadership in addressing global HIV/AIDS spread and increasing its impact in controlling the epidemic. Krapf also said its HIV prevention messages and activities had reached over 300,000 people identified as “most-at-risk,” while about 50,000 pregnant women had received antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission.
He said, “According to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic in the world and has one of the highest new infection rates in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Many people living with HIV in Nigeria are unaware of their status due to insufficient recommended number of HIV testing and counselling centres. “Low access of antiretroviral treatment remains an issue for people living with HIV in Nigeria and I welcome the new commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria to use domestic funds to provide antiretroviral drugs to an additional 50,000 people living with HIV each year.”
Stating that the latest PEPFAR data from its population-based HIV impact assessments showed that five high-burden African countries were already approaching the control of their HIV/AIDS epidemics, Krapf assured that the US government would continue to provide support to the Federal Government towards controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS among Nigerians.
He said, “We are at an unprecedented moment in the global HIV/AIDS response. For the first time in modern history, we have the opportunity to change the very course of a pandemic by controlling it without a vaccine or a cure. “Controlling the pandemic will lay the groundwork for eliminating or eradicating HIV, which we hope will be possible through the future scientific breakthroughs which lead to an effective HIV vaccine and cure.”