About 1.9 million Nigerians are living with HIV/AIDS, according to the Nigeria HIV/ AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) of 2018. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which disclosed this, said it tested over three million Nigerians for HIV in 2020 and initiated 142,000 people on anti-retroviral therapy.
The disclosure came at a ceremony where USAID and telecoms infrastructure giant, IHS Nigeria, donated 70,000 rapid test kits to the Bayelsa State government in support of the state’s efforts to eradicate the HIV/AIDS epidemic and improve healthcare.
The contribution from IHS Nigeria, a subsidiary of IHS Towers, an international telecommunications infrastructure provider, will augment the Bayelsa HIV/AIDS programme’s capacity to find more unidentified people living with HIV. Babatunji Odelola, who leads the integrated service delivery function of USAID’s HIV/AIDS team, said at the donation ceremony that the test kits will support prevention of mother-to-child transmission services within antenatal clinics and provide critical HIV testing services to numerous young children and others who are at risk.
“We urge the state government to maximize the opportunity that these test kits afford them by encouraging the people of Bayelsa to get tested for HIV. If found to be HIV positive, they can access life-saving treatment through USAID’s partners,” Odelola said. He said that the antiretroviral therapy was being provided to Nigerians through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
The United States, through PEPFAR, supports 80 per cent of all HIV/AIDS treatment services provided in Nigeria. “As part of its efforts to enhance engagement of the private sector in Nigeria’s health sector, USAID facilitated the contribution from IHS Nigeria to help eradicate HIV and AIDS in Bayelsa State. “We also encourage other private sector partners to explore opportunities for engagement with PEPFAR, USAID, and government entities in similar development partnerships to improve the health and well-being of Nigerians, laying the foundation for a strong and vibrant economy,” Odelola said