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FG introduces free HIV treatment 

June 21, 2017

The Federal Government on Tuesday said

it was set to implement new guidelines for HIV prevention, treatment and care to consolidate previous efforts in tackling the scourge.

Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, stated this at the opening of a two-day North-West Zonal Dissemination of 2016 National Guidelines for HIV prevention, Treatment and Care in Kaduna.

Represented by Segilola Araoye, his special adviser, Adewole said the guideline would ensure that those affected by HIV receive free health service at all levels in both public and private health institutions.

“From this day hence, everyone who tests positive to HIV is automatically eligible for treatment and this applies to everyone with equal emphasis, child, man and women, pregnant or not.

“From today onward we are duty-bound to offer antiretroviral drugs as prevention to all persons who are at high risk of contracting HIV infection.

“From today forward all persons on treatment are entitled to at least one viral load test per year.

“From today hence, we will place greater emphasis on differentiated systems of care that are adjustable to the individual needs of the patient,’’ the minister said.

Adewole noted that the recommendations in the 2016 guidelines by current standard were audacious, unambiguous and un-apologetically pro-patient.

The minister, however, appealed to state governments and other stakeholders to efficiently implement the recommendations of the guidelines to the later in an effort to tackle the menace.

“For this to happen, we must change course a bit and find the courage to depart from the strategies that have not worked well.

“The guidelines could not have come at a less opportune moment, as they will serve as the necessary catalyst for attainment of the UNAIDS 90-90-90 initiative.

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“And today, we hopefully bring to end the argument over deeply divisive option B and option B+ saga if our guidelines have been careful, to avoid the terms perhaps, it is time we stopped using them all together,” the minister said.

Accor you to statistics no fewer than 3.4 million people in Nigeria are currently affected by the HIV and AIDS scourge.

However, the health minister said, with the 2016 guidelines things would be better, as there were already 860,000 patients on Anti-retro-viral treatment (ART) in some 1,000 comprehensive HIV treatment centres.

According to him, that has led to the decline of morbity and mortality associated with HIV and AIDS in the country.

“I simply cannot accept that our collective hard work against HIV and AIDS in Nigeria is wasted effort.

“I accept that things can be done better but even at that we have achieved tremendous success in our battle against HIV.

“And I am strengthened in this belief by the change in public perception from the fear, panic hysteria and horror of 2,000 to the calm (Please be careful HIV is still out there) attitude that is the prevailing public sentiment about HIV and AIDS today,’’ he said.

Adewole said these guidelines would work because they were acceptable to the vast majority of stakeholders.

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