A non-governmental organisation, the Civil Society for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CiSHAN), says about 900,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS in the country are yet to show up for treatment and are currently unaccounted for.
The Executive Secretary of CiSHAN, Walter Ugwocha, said this in Abuja at a virtual media round table for the commencement of the national campaign for HIV self-testing in the country.
“Out of the 1.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, about 900,000 are yet to show up for treatment and are currently unaccounted for,” he said.
Mr Ugwocha said based on the 2018 Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), Nigeria is still lagging behind in achieving the first 95 of the 95-95-95 target by 2030.
He said the HIV self-testing campaign is focused on pushing Nigeria towards achieving the targets.
He said the campaign will create awareness and demand for HIV self-testing, identification and early treatment of newly diagnosed HIV-positive individuals.
This he said will be geared towards the mandate of reaching about 10 million people with HIV self-testing kits by the end of 2020.
“We will be going to a state in each of the geo-political zones; Kogi, Delta, Gombe, Kaduna, Abia and Lagos, to help close the existing HIV testing gap.
“The COVID-19 lockdown significantly decreased access of community members -general, key and vulnerable population to HIV testing.
“The need to evolve community-driven HIV testing strategies was further re-affirmed by the anecdotal field reports by CiSHAN during the lockdown,” he said.
He calls on individuals and stakeholders in the country to support the donation of the HIV test kits to pregnant women and indigent citizens.
“We also call 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.
“We call on all state governments to procure self-test kits and deploy the same to institutions of learning, churches and facilities it use during outreaches to community members as a way to bridge the gap in HIV testing coverage especially during this COVID-19 era,” he said.
He urges 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 HIV Self Testing guidelines urgently.