In a bid to increase the number of people living with HIV on antiretroviral treatment and achieve an AIDS-free generation, Osun State has launched its HIV Treatment Surge initiative.
The programme is being implemented through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), with support from the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC).
Speaking at the launch event, U.S. CDC country director, Mary Boyd emphasised that the surge efforts were innovative and intensified approaches to reach the UNAIDS 95-95-95 goal. This goal aims to have 95 per cent of people living with HIV know their status, 95 per cent of those people on antiretroviral treatment (ART) and 95 per cent of those on ART reaching viral suppression.
The state currently has almost 30,000 people estimated to be living with HIV, 13,500 of which are yet to be identified and placed on treatment. The HIV Treatment Surge aims to quickly close this gap and achieve treatment saturation, while also preventing the transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies and enhancing adolescent and key populations services.
U.S. Consul General, Will Stevens highlighted the need for equitable access to HIV services across the state, especially for vulnerable populations such as women, adolescents, and children. The surge is one of many that have taken place in states since 2019 and has identified and placed hundreds of thousands of people on life-saving treatment across the country, a remarkable accomplishment achieved even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a statement by a senior public affairs specialist, U.S. Embassy, Aishah Gambari, as of March 2023, 1.8 million Nigerians are receiving HIV treatments via PEPFAR as the country moves closer to its goal of reaching HIV epidemic control.
With the support of the state government, communities and partners, the HIV Treatment Surge is poised to propel the state towards ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat and save many lives.