By Hassan Zaggi
In an effort to ensure that Nigerians know their HIV status, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO)- Civil Society for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CiSHAN), has mapped out plans to get 10 million Nigerians tested for HIV through access to self-testing kits.
This will be achieved through a campaign christened: ‘HIV Self Testing Campaign: Getting 10Million Nigerians to know their HIV Status through HIV Self Testing,’ which will be done in partnership with the media.
Executive Secretary of CiSHAN, Dr. Walter Ndukwe, disclosed this known at a virtual media briefing on Tuesday.
“As responsive Civil Society Organization, CISHAN which is the national coordinating civil society organization has taken it as an organizational task to support the national government to reach the first 95 of the global target.
“The strategy is focused on creating awareness and demand for HIV self-testing in Nigeria.
“Through its over 5000 members located in the 774 local government areas of Nigeria, CISHAN with the support of the media will facilitate access to HIV self-testing kits in both rural and hard to reach areas/populations,” he explained.
The campaign, he said, will lead to increase in the number of Nigerians who have tested for HIV which is 10 million by end of 2020; identification of the newly diagnosed HIV positive individuals and linking them to treatment in partnership with the Lead Implementing Partners for each state and also increase in uptake of PrEP by persons at substantial risk of HIV infection.
Dr. Ndukwe therefore, called on Nigerians to accept the national rollout of the HIV self-testing program, stressing that, it can help close the huge HIV testing gap and ensuring the country achieve the first 95 in the HIV response.
“CiSHAN calls on the Federal Ministry of Health, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and various state Ministries, Agencies and Departments involved with the HIV/AIDS response to disseminate the HIV Self Testing guidelines urgently.
“CiSHAN calls on PEPFAR, Global Fund and other donors to increase their commitment to HIV Self Testing in the country as a means of reaching the unreached populations most especially Adolescents and Young Persons and Key Populations
“CiSHAN calls on all State governments to procure self-test kits and deploy same to institutions of learning, churches and facilitates its use during outreaches to community members as a way to bridge the gap in HIV testing coverage especially during this COVID 19 era.
“CiSHAN mandates all its State Chapters and constituent members to immediately commence advocacy, demand creation and community awareness campaign on HIV Self Testing across all communities in Nigeria,” he noted.