The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), administered by the Centres for Disease Control, Department of Defence, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) are set to identify and provide treatment to at least 60,000 people living with HIV in Lagos State. The US Consul-General to Nigeria, Claire Pierangle, who made this known during a courtesy call on the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu Thursday, said the US government has increased budget for HIV control activities in Nigeria, with an additional focus for Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) surge activities in Lagos State.
She said Lagos remains significant in the trajectory of HIV/AIDS epidemic control in Nigeria and that it was an important area of focus for the delivery of HIV/AIDS services in the country due to its population, geographic location, diversity, and status as a major gateway to the rest of the country. “I urge the governor to remove all barriers hindering people living with HIV from accessing free services offered by the US government through the PEPFAR programme. There is the negative effect of user-fees as a major barrier to PLHIV (People Living with HIV) accessing treatment. I am calling for the elimination of such fees.
“I am advocating for the removal of antenatal care charges for pregnant women living with the virus, and the removal of other barriers hindering PLHIV from accessing health services. The US remains committed to supporting Nigeria as it works to reduce and ultimately eliminate the scourge of HIV/AIDS among its people,” Pierangelo said. The consul-general noted that disbursement of the additional PEPFAR HIV funds was contingent upon Nigerian federal and state governments reducing or eliminating financial barriers to PLHIV accessing services, in particular fees charged by healthcare facilities for non-essential services or those already provided by PEPFAR.