CDC, CIHP sensitize pregnant women on HIV

NASCP: HIV Epidemic In Nigeria is Over

On Tuesday, the National AIDS, Viral Hepatitis and STIs Control Programme (NASCP) revealed that Nigeria has successfully reduced the threat of HIV in the country and that it is no longer an epidemic.

This is the sequel to a bid to fast-track efforts at lowering the rate of HIV disease transmission in the country by NASCP, in collaboration with PELTOM Global Services Ltd, Codix Pharma Limited involving roll-out plans for training of healthcare personnel on the appropriate use of HIV 1 and 2 Rapid Test Kit.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has launched its strategy and implementation plan for 2023 – 2027 and unveiled it at its Health Security Partners’ meeting held in Abuja on Tuesday.

NASCP said that the federal government has been able to implement a testing and treatment programme that has significantly brought the spread of HIV under control.

Under the initiative with funding support from SD Biosensor, South Korea, NASCP will be conducting a 3-day National Training of Trainers (TOT) on the WHO-approved Standard Q HIV 1& 2 Rapid Test Kit in Nigeria. The training seeks to ensure the right and appropriate use of the product and also to monitor its performance and operational effectiveness on the field.

Following the ToT, over 900 additional testers would be trained across the 774 LGAs through regional training in all the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

Addressing journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, the National Coordinator of NASCP, Dr. Ade Bashorun, said the training will start on Thursday, 23rd November, 2023, in Abuja.

“For us, this training is very important because we need to do everything possible to find out all the cases of HIV in our country and after that, we must also link them to treatment so that when they are linked to treatment and there are viral loads suppression and retention of treatment, the transmission in the country will be reduced. An increase in testing will also help us to reduce the transmission from mother to their children.

“So the more we do the right thing in terms of testing, the more we reduce the risk of transmission. Now the interesting thing about what we are doing today, regarding the commencement of training for the Rapid test kit for HIV 1 and 2, is that it is an innovative programme which has not been embarked upon in the last 20 years in the country.”

Bashorun said that the outcome of the training will help produce better results from the HIV testing across the country adding that NASCP is committed to ensuring that Nigeria gets the best in terms of equipment and use of the device to drastically reduce the health challenges caused by HIV.

On the integrity and quality of the test kits, he said that all the brands of rapid test kits deployed in Nigeria have passed through quality assessment trials by NAFDAC.

Regarding the availability of the Rapid Test Kits, he said that (Cobi) is working in conjunction with Bio-censors to increase in-country production, “I can tell you categorically that the training is starting in the next few days. He restated the determination of the government to ensure the eradication of new HIV transmission by 2030.

NASCP boss urged people to endeavour to come out and take advantage of the rollout of the rapid test kits in order to know their HIV status.

When asked to assess the state of the prevalence of HIV infection in Nigeria and the level of threat it poses to the health of the people, the Coordinator said; “We have three stages of HIV disease outcomes; epidemic pandemic and endemic. For instance, when HIV started it was an epidemic later it became a pandemic.

“As things are now, it is endemic because we have been able to control its spread and we have been able to control the stigma attached to it. Now we have treatment that can control its spread and prevent the viral load not to rise or be detected. So at that level, the HIV disease is now endemic because it has been controlled and is no longer a threat and we intend to ensure that transmission is totally slowed down to the extent that there will be no new infection.”