U.S. Urges Removal of User-fees for People Living with HIV

Enugu–– The recently released data from the U.S.-supported Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey revealed that there are approximately 1.9 million people still living with the virus in Nigeria. These people require appropriate medical treatment to live a normal and healthy life.

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is implementing an Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) surge program in Enugu state to rapidly identify and provide treatment to approximately 43,000 people living with HIV who have not previously received such treatment, by September 2020.

Consul General Claire Pierangelo led a U.S. delegation to the formal launch of the Enugu State ART Surge, in which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through its implementing partner, the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN) aims to rapidly identify and place an additional 43,000 people on treatment.

The event in Enugu also provided an opportunity for the Consul General to highlight the U.S. government’s $75 million budget increase for HIV control activities in Nigeria, with an increased focus on Enugu State for the ART surge activities.

Consul General Pierangelo thanked Governor Ugwuanyi for his commitment to work with all stakeholders, as the State implements the PEPFAR ART Surge as well as his general cooperation with the U.S. government in order to move the State towards achieving control of the HIV epidemic. She highlighted the negative effect of user-fees as a major barrier to people living with HIV  being able to access treatment and urged the elimination of such fees for all people living with HIV, in addition to antenatal care charges for pregnant women living with the virus, and the removal of other barriers hindering PLHIV from accessing health services.

“The United States remains committed to supporting Nigeria as it works to reduce and ultimately eliminate the scourge of HIV/AIDS among its people,” Consul General Pierangelo said.  She 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 Consul General noted that the disbursement of the additional PEPFAR HIV funds is contingent upon the 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.

The U.S. Government recently announced support to Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Enugu States for the launch of an ART Surge, a program designed to put an additional 500,000 people living with HIV on treatment. The 500,000 people would be in addition to the more than 700,000 people already on treatment as part of the overall PEPFAR intervention.