The institute of human virology in Nigeria says a medical survey conducted by the united nations organization and the HIV/AIDS surge project revealed that Rivers state is the 3rd highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Nigeria.
The Deputy Director of the Rivers State Surge project Dr Clifford Umeh stated this at the sideline of the inauguration of police action committee on AIDS. (PACA)
He said from the study rivers state came out with the highest prevalence rate at 3.8% of unmet needs of reported cases, of HIV/AIDS positive patients who are not yet on treatment. He said we have estimated number of two hundred and ten thousand people that are HIV positive in the state and with this number we have only about forty thousand (40,000) of them are on treatment.
We want to breach the gap by putting the treatment coverage in the state from 21% TO 81% BY 2020. That will help us to achieve what is known as epidemic control in the state. Our intention is to achieve epidemic control in the state to ensure that HIV Transmission is reversed.
The way it is now because of the low coverage in the state, transmission is ongoing on a daily basis. But by putting people on treatment, it will help them reduce the transmission because we can use the drugs we use for treatment as preventions as well. When someone is on HIV treatment, the person can equally achieve two things: one is the person will live a good life the other one is that the person will not be able to transmit the Virus to other people by achieving Viral suppression.
So we are in the state to ensure that people that are HIV infected are put on treatment, that they have viral suppression and that they don’t transmit the infection to the population. By so doing the state will be safe and by extension Nigeria will be safe. We intend to achieve that by 2020 September following UNESCO VISION 95/95 which we have come to the state to do.
The Deputy director of the Rivers state HIV/AIDS surge project Dr Clifford Umeh lamented that insecurity in the rural areas have prevented the medical team from rendering free counseling, treatment and test to HIV/AIDS victims in rural areas.
He said the challenges are that different local government has different classification of security challenges. We have what we call the low risk local government areas, high-risk and Medium Risk local government areas. One of the challenges is the harassment of our teams in the communities. Some of them are harassed by the locals, some are not accepted to conduct the HIV/AIDS tests on their population. So we are pleading that the state should understand that we are here ensure that HIV infection does not get to the next generation. We want reverse transmission we want to ensure that HIV/AIDS is curtailed in rivers state.
Rivers state and Akwaibom happen to be the two states in the federations that are running what is known as surge project because rivers state has about one hundred and sixty-nine unmet needs. That means people that are estimated to have HIV/AIDs who are not on treatment while Akwaibom has ninety-five thousand people on met needs. That’s the reason for the Surge intervention but graciously the state government has put a stop to user fee which was one of the challenges we were having before now.