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HIV/AIDS: US Govt To Treat 180,000 Patients In Rivers

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The United States government has declared its intention to identify and provide treatment for approximately 180,000 people living with Human Immune Virus (HIV) in Rivers State.

This is as Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has commended the United States government for working with the state government to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS through the implementation of an Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) surge program in the state.

US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Stuart Symington, spoke yesterday at Government House, Port Harcourt, during a high profile meeting on the promotion of the health of Rivers people.

Symington stated that the treatment is sponsored by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), US Department of Defense, and US Agency for International Development (USAID).

The envoy stated that the US government’s $75 million budget increase for HIV control activities in Nigeria, with about $25 million allocated for the ART surge activities.

He thanked Wike for announcing his intent to eliminate user-fees for PLHIV, saying that th le delegation was in Rivers State to advocate for elimination of user-fees for all people living with HIV, antenatal care charges for pregnant women living with the virus, and other barriers hindering PLHIV from accessing health services.

The ambassador emphasized Wike’s pronouncement serves as an example to other states and the federal government to eliminate such user fees.

Symington said: “The United States remains committed to supporting Nigeria as it works to reduce and ultimately eliminate the scourge of HIV/AIDS among its people.”

He noted the increased funding to make anti-retrovirals available would enable more people living with HIV to lead healthy, productive lives until the day a cure for the virus is found.

The ambassador noted that disbursement of the additional PEPFAR HIV funds are contingent upon Nigerian federal and state governments reducing or eliminating financial barriers to PLHIV access to services, in particular fees charged by healthcare facilities for non-essential services or those already provided by PEPFAR.

Responding, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, said: “I want to thank the Government of the United States for working with  the Rivers State Government to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

“I thank the United States Government for recognising the contributions of the Rivers State Government in the fight against HIV/AIDS “.

Wike assured the United States Government that his administration will continue to fund programmes that will reduce the prevalence of the healthcare challenge.

The governor said: “We will continue  to work for the reduction of HIV/AIDS in the state. We are glad  that we are partners with the US government. For us, health is key. Education is key. With Education, you can talk to people on measures to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

“At present, with the support of the United States government, we are  running 115 sites to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS.”

He stated that the health programmes  of the Rivers State government is yielding results as the immunisation statistics of the state has moved from 54percent  to 82 percent.

Speaking further, Wike thanked the United States government for insisting that votes count in Rivers State during the last General Elections.

The governor said the United States government ensured that democracy survived in the country, despite  the fact that it came under threat.

 

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