By Carol V. Utulu
Asaba, Oct. 7, 2020 The Delta government has launched its HIV/AIDS Self-Test programme, designed to promote effective testing for the disease-causing virus among residents of the state.
The Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Chiedu Ebie, who launched the programme on Wednesday in Asaba, said the state government placed huge emphasis on HIV testing because it considered it pivotal to HIV care and support.
He noted that over the years, since the first official report of the virus in Nigeria in 1986, concerted efforts have been made locally and globally in the area of impact mitigation.
“This self-test exercise has helped tremendously in determining HIV prevalence as well as providing useful and reliable data for HIV programme.
“There is no doubt that this will indeed make the programme a remarkable milestone in Delta State HIV response services.
“The HIV self testing which we are gathered here today to launch is a new strategy to reinforce existing strategies and boast our case finding for HIV/AIDS,” Ebie stated.
The SSG revealed that the self-testing programme has enormous benefit which he said includes availability of testing to hard-to-reach clients and reduction in stigmatization.
According to him, other benefits include enhanced accessibility, convenience and ease of use guaranteed, confidentiality, painless, self application, among others.
Speaking at the event, State Commisioner for Health, Dr. Mordi Ononye, disclosed that the state government had since January 2020, waived user fees charges for People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in the state.
He further explained that the decision to introduce the waiver is to enable the PLHIV have unhindered access to Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART).
“This, in no small measure, will enable more PLHIV to achieve vital suppression and also enable Nigeria to attain epidemic control of HIV by the 2030.
“Also, let me state here that people’s awareness of their HIV status is very essential to the success of the global HIV response,” Ononye said.