As US stakes $90m in HIV, Hepatitis survey
By Hassan Zaggi
Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said that the Federal Government does not the exact figure of Nigerians living with theHuman Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
A�To address the problem, the government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United States of America (USA) government to conduct a National Health Indicator and Impact Survey.
The survey will also cover Hepatitis B and C and assess the uptake of HIV services among the population and estimate the prevalence of HIV-related risks behaviour in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The survey, regarded as the largest HIV survey to be conducted in the world, will be household in nature and involve 170,000 participants. It will cost $90 million which will be provided by the US government.
It is being conducted under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health and National Agency for the Control of AIDs (NACA).
At the signing of the MoU in Abuja on Thursday, Adewole, said: a�?What we have just done is to sign a MoU that will make us do many things. The survey will put behind us the concept of making guess work out of the burden of HIV in Nigeria.
a�?We simply do not know how many people are infected with HIV and so this study will help us to determine how many people truly have HIV in Nigeria.
a�?It is going to be the largest of its type with close to 200,000 people being surveyed. Not only are we going to only look for HIV, we are also going to look for Hepatitis B and C; we are also going to link them up with treatment; so if you are not on treatment, that is not the end of the world, we are giving you hope because we will link you up with treatment,a�? he said.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, urged Nigerians to support the survey because it will improve the health of Nigerians and enable them do what has not been done in the world.
Symington said: a�?This survey is an opportunity to lift the health of all Nigerians and to set an example from Nigeria for the whole of this continent and for the whole world. This is in the power of every Nigerian to participate in this survey.a�?
The Director-General of NACA, Dr. Aliyu Sani, explained that the MoU was a major landmark for the HIV response in the country.
He said: a�?Today is a good day for Nigeria and a good day for the national HIV response. This is because we have taken a major decision to define a true extent of the HIV epidemic in the country.
a�?When I started this job about one and half years ago, the first thing I noticed was the problem of data, the precision of the data and our inability to know exactly how many people we have living with HIV in the country and where they are.
a�?This survey is a household survey that will cover about 170,000 people in the country, it will be nationwide, it will be very complex, ita��s going to be the largest survey ever done in the world for HIV. It will certainly be the most expensive, but there is a reason behind it,a�? he said.