Towards 2030 HIV-free Lagos

Towards 2030 HIV-free Lagos

Thursday, February 11, 2016 4:23 pm

Nigerians undergoing HIV screening in Lagos

Nigerians undergoing HIV screening in Lagos

Kazeem Ugbodaga

The Lagos State Government’s projection to end the reign of the dreaded HIV/AIDS pandemic by 2030 in Lagos appears a daunting task, but it believes that the feat is achievable. With 3.4 percent national prevalence rate as at 2015, the scourge of HIV/AIDS is gradually fizzling out in Nigeria. With improved health technique, Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS prevalence rate had dropped from 5.1 per cent to 3.4 per cent at the current rate.

Lagos, the third largest mega city in the world with a stunning population estimated over 20 million, provides a festering ambience for HIV/AIDS, but with determined, aggressive sensitization and public education on the danger of the dreaded disease, the wings of HIV/AIDS appear to be fallen off. Currently, the prevalence HIV rate of Lagos stood at 2.2 percent, ranking 18th worst hit HIV/AIDS states in Nigeria’s 36 states.

Statistics from the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency, LSACA, in 2014 reveals that in the last one year 1,702 pregnant women tested positive to HIV and had to be placed on prophylaxis in Lagos’ public health facilities. State’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, had disclosed that 1,143 babies that had been exposed to HIV were also placed on prophylaxis.

An AIDS patient

An AIDS patient

“The agency was able to carry out in the last one year HIV Counselling and Testing, HIC, during which a total of 115,424 clients were counselled at the health facilities. 40,997 pregnant women were counselled and tested through TBA outreaches,” he said.

According to Idris, “5,492 positive clients commenced antiretroviral treatment; 1,702 positive pregnant women were placed on prophylaxis and also 1,143 HIV exposed babies on prophylaxis. We conducted leadership training for 250 secondary school students.”

The statistics released in 2015 by the same agency reveals that at least, 10,606 residents of Lagos tested positive for the dreaded HIV disease in public hospitals and facilities in Lagos State between May 2014 and May 2015. The statistics reveals further that out of the 58,792 people counselled and tested for HIV, 10,606 of them were found to be positive, which represented 18 percent of the total figure.

According to Idris, government’s effort towards curbing HIV led to the conduction of the fourth phase of sensitisation of Traditional Birth Attendant, TBA, on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV, PMTCT, Universal Safety Precaution, USP, and Referral Linkage to PMTCT intervention.

He said 28,736 pregnant women were counselled and tested during the outreach, out of which 340 were positive and referred to PMTCT services, adding that 2,957 HIV positive clients commenced anti-retroviral treatment in the last one year. Idris disclosed that 1,066 HIV positive pregnant women and 745 HIV exposed babies were placed on antiretroviral vaccine prophylaxis.

Lagos State House of Assembly Committee Chairman on Health, Segun Olulade during the last World AIDS Day in December, 2015 lamented that over 470, 435 residents had been affected by the HIV virus in Lagos State, but urged the House to support People Living with HIV/AIDS. He said there was the need for all to pull efforts together to fight the disease.

According to him, there was the need to show support to those living with AIDS as the disease represented a serious issue that could not be ignored or treated with levity. He called on the state government and relevant agencies to support the enlightenment programmes aimed at stemming the spread of the disease.

Governor Ambode

Governor Ambode

But thee Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Akinyemi Ashade said the government is winning the war against HIV/AIDS just as it won the battle against Ebola in 2014. Ashade had spoken during the last World AIDS Day, with the theme: “Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS related deaths.”

He said it was possible for Lagos to be free from the scourge of HIV/AIDS based on the fact that the spread of the dreaded HIV virus in Lagos has reduced to six percent (6%) in 2015, down from nine percent (9%) in 2014. “The result of 176,023 individuals tested for HIV/AIDS during the Facility and Community Testing in Lagos State in 2014 showed that 16,684 representing 9% tested positive, while that of the same activity for 165,893 individuals this year revealed that only 9,714 representing 6% tested positive.

“The three percent reduction in the spread of the virus is commendable considering the fact that 85,226 most high risk population, female sex workers, men who have sexual intercourse with men and drug users were part of the test”, he added.

He noted that the greatest challenge facing the fight against HIV/AIDS and the 2030 deadline is funding, canvassing that the State must look inward to raise fund for the sustenance of the campaign since foreign donors could not be totally relied upon, coupled with the need to ensure seamless supply of drugs for people living with the virus. He said it was saddened that despite the state’s huge population and the vulnerability of the people, no company is producing any of the anti-retroviral drugs and preventive materials like condom in Nigeria.

Ashade called on pharmaceutical industries in the country to take up the challenge of producing these drugs and preventive materials in order to eradicate the scourge by 2030. According to him, the government would redouble her efforts in free HIV Counselling and Testing being provided at all Primary Health Centres and General Hospitals in the State as well as support the agency in the purchase of test kits for use by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

Also, LSACA spoke of a decrease in HIV infection after 15,831 of the 289,044 screened for the disease recently tested positive. At least, 105,304 people were tested through community outreach and 183,740 at health facilities.

Project Manager and Acting Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of LSACA, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye says the State Government is targeting an end to the dreaded HIV/AIDS pandemic in the state by 2030 and has called on the private sector, communities and individuals to join hands with the government to achieve the set goal.

Ogboye implored the private sector, communities and individuals to play their part in the fight against HIV and AIDS towards eradicating the scourge in the State by 2030, stressing that the support for the people living with HIV and AIDS is important in order to reduce the spread of the virus.

He added that the role of the private sector, communities and individuals in eliminating the scourge could not be overemphasized, adding that the Agency is reaching out to key private players in the response to showcase their work and increase awareness on the dreaded diseases.

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