The United States Government says it will continue to support Nigeria in its quest to end the HIV pandemic in the country.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Marybth Leonard, gave the assurance at the Workshop on Data Repository as a Resource for Achieving HIV-Epidemic Control, on Thursday in Abuja.
Leonard said that approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV received support to improve quality of life, including Tuberculosis and HIV care services, and about 1.3 million orphans and vulnerable children received care and support services in Nigeria.
“I am delighted to join you today to celebrate World AIDS Day 2020. Every year we gather to celebrate people living with HIV/AIDS, remember those who have passed on due to the disease, and thank those who continue to work tirelessly to bring this epidemic under control.
”HIV/AIDS continues to be a leading cause of death, with over 690,000 people dying from AIDS-related illnesses in 2019.
”Today, over 38 million people are living with HIV worldwide. The U.S. government is fighting this disease through treatment and prevention initiatives and expanding access to HIV services for people worldwide.
”This World AIDS Day, we reaffirm our dedication to the fight to end HIV,” she said.
Leonard also said, in spite of threat of COVID-19, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief helped diagnose and provide treatment to 6,000 HIV-infected Nigerians in 2020 while maintaining the integrity and quality of services, and keeping the healthcare providers safe.
”Now, PEPFAR is supporting lifesaving treatment to over a million patients and partnering with the government to achieve epidemic control,” she said.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who declared the workshop open, said that the workshop was a timely opportunity to critically examine available data in the country.
Ehanire also acknowledged all the supports of partners.
“There is no doubt that 2020 will be judged by history to be an important year in global public health.
“Despite the threats that COVID-19 posed to our programmes and targets, it is a paradox, in that it also presented us with an important opportunity for learning and for change.
”I am certain that most of this learning will remain with us even in the post-COVID -19 era,” Ehanire said.
The Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr Gambo Aliyu, said the National Data Repository would go a long way in identifying persons with HIV and placing them on treatment.