South West’s Osun State Government has recorded a reduction in new HIV infections in the state. The governor of the state, Senator Ademola Adeleke, revealed this on March 28, 2023, at the launch of the SURGE Project, which was organized by Excellence Community Education Welfare Scheme (ECEWS) in the state capital, Osogbo. Senator Adeleke , who was represented at the event by his deputy, expressed his satisfaction with the steps that have been taken towards improving access to HIV testing and treatment services.
He said that the project has made progress in reducing new HIV infections, especially among adolescent girls and young women, who are three times more likely to be infected with HIV than their male counterparts. He also said that efforts have been made to strengthen existing systems and promote stakeholder involvement. He attributed the success to the collective efforts of the government, ECEWS, the dedicated health workers who are on the frontlines of the fund as well as the Center for Disease Control.
More HIV patients can now access anti-retroviral drugs.
Governor Adeleke said that the main thrust of the project was to provide free HIV preventive and treatment services to thousands of people. This includes children, pregnant women, and key populations. He noted that thousands of residents of the state had benefited from free testing and treatment services, which accounted for a leap in treatment coverage by 12 percent in the first five months of active surge implementation. More so, the governor said that more people living with HIV could access the lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs, prophylaxis, and other essential services to stay healthy and thrive.
In terms of reducing and preventing new infections, he said that emphasis was placed on adolescent girls and young women because of their susceptibility. The driving factor was identified as inequality. Thus, all stakeholders are working to combine services for sexual and reproductive health with services for preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence and HIV, to design interventions that work for all women and girls in all their diversity. The governor said that ensuring all pregnant women have access to HIV testing services and treatment as needed will keep us in focus for an HIV-free generation.
HIV statistics in Nigeria calls for more efforts to combat the virus.
According to Be in the KNOW, a new digital brand by (an NGO) offering trusted, evidence-based content on sex and sexual health, about 1.9 million people are living with HIV in Nigeria; there is HIV prevalence 1.3 percent of adults; there are about 74,000 new HIV infections and 51,000 AIDS-related deaths; and 1.7 million people are on anti-retroviral treatment. Governor Adeleke implores all indigenes and dwellers to ensure that they know their status and adopt healthy lifestyles.
The US Consul-General, Will Stevens, harped on the need to conduct more HIV tests in the state to reach out to those who do not know their status yet. He also added that the purpose of the SURGE Project was to reach out to more people and ensure that carriers of the virus commence treatment immediately. Stevens noted that over 13,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS in the state were yet to commence treatment and called for a massive outreach to get to them.
There is a need to reach all 29,000 people living with HIV.
Mr. Stevens said more hands are needed on deck to reach the most vulnerable citizens. Those who have been cast aside, ignored, and downtrodden should be found through the collective efforts of the government, the police, civil societies and implementing partners. Head of Legal Service, ECEWS Project Director of HIV treatment for Osun, Ekiti and Delta States, Dr. Okezie Onyediachi, also stressed the need to reach all the over 29,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS before 2025.