US Consul General raises alarm over 13,000 HIV/AIDS positive Osun residents

US Consul General raises alarm over 13,000 HIV/AIDS positive Osun residents

United States Consul General in Nigeria, Will Stevens has disclosed that getting 13,000 HIV/AIDS positive Osun residents on treatment requires communal efforts.

According to Vanguard, while speaking at the launching of HIV treatment surge in Osun State held at the Local Government Service Commission on Thursday, facilitated by Excellent Community Welfare Education Service (ECEWS), he said every stakeholder must collaborate to get infected residents to enroll for the necessary treatment.

According to him, HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence as the community just needs to work together, to make everyone feel safe and approach the necessary health facilities for treatment. 

“We all hopefully have paid attention to this programme, it is to beat HIV/AIDS. We need community efforts, we need all that we can get, we need partnership. 

“We need help with the police. We need civil society. We need implementing partners. We need America and Nigeria to work together to combat the menace. 

“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. After this launch, I can’t wait to come back and see you reach 95-95-95 of treatment for the PLWAs. 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, 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 preventive 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 antiretroviral drugs, prophylaxis, and other essential services they need to stay healthy and thrive,” he stated.

Addressing newsmen, ECEWS Project Director of HIV treatment for Osun, Ekiti and Delta states, Dr Okezie Onyedinachi, said the essence of the surge treatment in the state was premised on the fact after a National Survey in 2018, out of the 29,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the state, only 16,000 were placed on treatment as at last 2022.

He said; “The programme, Surge, is aimed at reaching the remaining 13,000 people living with the scourge and put them on treatment by 2025. So the time is too short and we need to do things differently. We know they are out there and for us we have to think differently, that is entering into the communities and making sure of providing opportunities for  people to know their HIV status across Osun State. 

“Prior to our coming to the state, we are working within 12 local governments and now, we are taking it to the whole 30 local governments and to give it necessary priority, the

Governor has been appointed as the “Surge Champion” to enable us to achieve our target”.

Courtesy Vanguard

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