FG extends free treatment of all HIV positive Nigerians

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has confirmed the extension of the free treatment of the Human Deficiency Virus (HIV) to all positive persons across the country.

Speaking at the official flag off of the Central Dissemination of the 2016 National Guidelines for HIV Prevention Treatment and Care in Abuja Thursday, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the treatment of HIV would no longer favour a selected few.

According to him, anyone who tests positive to HIV is automatically eligible for treatment.

He said: “From this day henceforth, everyone who tests positive to HIV is automatically eligible for treatment and this applies to everyone with equal emphasis, child, man and woman, pregnant or not.

“We are duty bound to offer antiretroviral drugs as prevention to all persons who are at a high risk of contracting HIV Infection. From today forward, all persons on treatment are entitled to at least one viral load test per year.

“We will place greater emphasis on differentiated systems of care that are adjustable to the individual needs of the patient, and today, we hopefully bring to an end the argument over deeply divisive Option B and Option B saga.

“The 2016 guidelines is by today’s standard, cutting edge, its recommendations are audacious, unambiguous and unapologetically pro-patient.”

Dr. Ehanire said Nigeria’s response to HIV was not a failure as being reported, saying, “I disagree completely with them, not because I am compelled to disagree, but because nothing is happening around us that suggest that our HIV programme is a disaster.”

In his remarks, Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria, Dr. Patrick Dakum, said that the rate of infants infected with the virus through pregnant mother to child transmission had dropped drastically.

Dakum said less infants exposed to HIV in the country are born positive when compared to previous years.

He however stressed on the need for Nigeria which currently has the highest figure of infected infants in the world, to join other countries in recording zero level of pregnant mother- to-child transmission of HIV since the prevention method was long and known.

“We have come a long way. In the past if 100 women who are positive give birth, almost 30 of the babies that are exposed will have HIV.  Now in most facilities it is much more less than 3% and we have less babies being born with HIV than it was before,” he said.

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