“A Resilient HIV Response During the COVID-19 Pandemic”
Today marks 17 years since the U.S. Congress passed legislation authorizing the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – a legislation aimed at combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic around the world.
Cumulatively since 2004, the U.S. has invested more than $85 billon in the global HIV/AIDS response, making it the largest global commitment by any nation to tackle a single disease in history. In Nigeria, the U.S. has invested more than $5 billion in the national HIV/AIDS response. We are working together with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Defense, National AIDS Control Agency and State AIDS Control Agencies, UNAIDS, the Global Fund, state governors, implementing partners, and private donors to find HIV-positive individuals and get them on life-saving treatment. Together, our collective efforts aim at creating an HIV/AIDS-free generation. Currently, we are succeeding with concrete commitments by state governments to eliminate user fees for HIV-services, procurement of test kits, and ending stigmatization to encourage all Nigerians to know their status.
Even though HIV/AIDS has not gone away, it is no longer a death sentence. People on treatment are suppressing their viral loads, making the disease untransmittable. In 2019 alone, PEPFAR-funded programs provided 772,000 men, women, and children in Nigeria with life-saving antiretroviral treatment and 7.7 million people received HIV counseling and testing services. More than 1.6 million pregnant women received services for the prevention of perinatal HIV infection while approximately 1.1 million orphans and vulnerable children received care and support services.
Equally important, PEPFAR has supported Nigeria in the critical areas of policy development, human capacity development, and overarching health systems strengthening including infrastructure, provision of state-of-the-art laboratories, and pharmaceutical warehouses. This not only enhances Nigeria’s health systems to tackle HIV/AIDS, but a host of other diseases, including tuberculosis and malaria. Additionally, these health systems help to support vaccine preventable diseases and unanticipated disease outbreaks such as the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and now, the COVID-19 pandemic.
As PEPFAR marks 17 years, our Nigeria program remains committed to health systems strengthening in Nigeria. The U.S. is providing $32.8 million to support the COVID-19 response, the technical expertise of 55 health experts, and use of our laboratory and social mobilization networks. At the same time, we are continuing to provide essential HIV prevention and treatment services for millions of Nigerians. We are proud of what we have accomplished together and look forward to continued collaboration to win the fights against both HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 in Nigeria.