HIV positive. Photo Shutterstock
Since 2003, the United States government said it had contributed over $6 billion to strengthen systems, train and recruit hundreds of thousands of health workers, upgrade existing laboratories and develop modern management and supply chain systems to make Nigeria deliver comprehensive Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) services.
The American government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has also improved access to HIV treatment across Nigeria.
United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, who disclosed this at the unveiling of a publication, “From the Darkest of Days to a New Dawn – 35 years of the Nigerian Response to HIV and AIDS,” yesterday in Abuja, noted that when Nigeria’s first HIV case was reported in 1986, it marked the beginning of what appeared to be an unstoppable epidemic.
The envoy observed that the launch of the New Dawn publication “takes us back into history when an AIDS-free generation seems unimaginable, adding: “We have come to celebrate that the impossible is possible, and reaching HIV epidemic control is a reality for Nigeria.”
He went on: “We are most proud of how we reached this point together. Our key partnerships with the national and state governments, UNAIDS and Global Fund were instrumental in determining what systems and strategy we needed to gain traction and outpace. Our current targeted strategy was based on the Ministry of Health’s highly successful population-based survey, the Nigerian AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS).”
The data we received allowed us to zoom in on reaching 95-95-95 goals, as it informed our ART Surge strategy to target treatment for populations of unknown HIV status and enlist governors and religious and traditional leaders for state-level buy-in.
Also speaking, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mathias Schmale, commended Nigeria’s strong leadership and commitment to the fight against several pandemics, including HIV and COVID-19.
Schmale observed that the New Dawn publication chronicles more than 150 people who contributed, fought or experienced evolution of the response and also depicts the role played by the government and various key stakeholders, including development partners, people living with HIV, civil society and private sector.
Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Sani Aliyu, said the publication confirms what could be achieved, “when we come together.”