U.S, DECEMBER 1, 2016 – The United State has assured Nigeria of steady funding for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and has appealed for increased domestic funding to combat HIV/AIDS.
The declaration was made by Ms Shirley Dady, the Coordinator of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),while briefing newsmen on Thursday in Abuja.
Dady said that the organisation is expecting its funding in Nigeria to be constant, adding that “this year we have a budget of $400 million for the HIV/AIDS response”.
“We are looking at ways where we can be more efficient with the resources so that we can increase the number of people we place on treatment every year.
“We are hoping that the government of Nigeria can also contribute and increase funding in a meaningful way to conquer the epidemic,’’ she said.
She said the U.S. government is committed to working with Nigeria to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target which will allow us to get ahead of the epidemic.
The coordinator said: “We are looking to diagnose 90 per cent of people on the HIV; place 90 per cent of the HIV-positive people on treatment.’’
She added that the ambitious UNAIDS target also aimed at reducing the viral load by 90 per cent to reduce HIV transmission in the Nigeria.
She said there is a new technology that encourages private testing of HIV; the kit will hopefully be available in Nigeria soon.
Besides, Dady said stigma and discrimination which affects the gains in controlling HIV/AIDS by 2020 and ending HIV/AIDS by 2030.
The official added that there is no reason to discriminate among people living with the virus, stressing that HIV is not different from other non-communicable diseases like hypertension, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
“If one is found to be positive to HIV; he can be placed on the ART and to reduce the viral load and ability to transmit the virus, and it can also help one to remain healthy.
“Back in the early days of HIV it was seen as a death sentence, people did not find out how to live with the virus until when it is very late and many of them just passed away.
“Today when you found out that you are positive you start ART and live positively,’’ she said.
Dady said this year’s World AIDS Day is set to think about our colleagues who are HIV positive and those who had passed away due to the epidemic.
She added that day would also be used to commemorate and think about those people who are now able to live positively based on the new advances and treatment.
Earlier, Stuart Symington, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, said the U.S. government has supported Nigeria to put 762,000 people on antiretroviral therapy.
He added that 12,665,000 Nigerians were supported by the U.S. government to know their status.
However, he appealed to the Nigerian government to re-strengthen the healthcare system to augment the support of its partners.