By Akinola Adeniyi Patrick, Lagos
United States Consul General in Nigeria, Will Stevens has disclosed that getting 13,000 HIV/AIDS-positive Osun residents on treatment requires communal efforts.
Speaking at the Launching of the HIV treatment surge in Osun State held at the Local Government Service Commission last week, which was facilitated by Excellent Community Welfare Education Service, ECEWS, he said every stakeholder must collaborate to get the infected resident to enrol for the necessary treatment.
According to him, HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence, the community just need to work together, to make everyone feel safe and approach the necessary health facilities for treatment.
“It will take that combined effort to reach our most vulnerable citizens. Invite those people who have been cast aside, those people who are often ignored and downtrodden. We need to work together to find them. Make them feel safe, and make them feel that they can come, get tested and get on treatment and spread the message that HIV is not a death sentence.
“It’s going to take that type of collective effort to reach the nearly 13,000 people that we estimated that haven’t yet found their status to make this search work so. After this launch, I can’t wait to come back and see you reach 95-95-95 of treatment for the victims. I’m actually pretty confident that it’s going to happen very quickly. And that all the hard work of incredible people I’ve met in the last 36 hours is going to make it happen”.
In his speech, Governor Ademola Adeleke, who was represented by his Deputy, Kola Adewusi said reiterated the state government’s commitment to reducing the scourge by improving access to HIV testing and treatment services.
“Through the ECEWS SPEED project, which is funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we have been able to scale up HIV testing and treatment services across the state, with a focus on equity, strengthening existing systems, building capacity, and promoting stakeholder involvement at all levels. The project focuses on providing free HIV prevention and treatment services to thousands of people, including children, pregnant women, and key populations.
“To date, thousands of people in Osun state have benefited from HIV testing and treatment services at no cost, and we have seen a leap in treatment coverage by 12% in the first 5 months of active surge implementation. This means that more people living with HIV can access the life-saving anti-retroviral drugs, prophylaxis, and other essential services they need to stay healthy and thrive”, he stated.