HIV Akwa Ibom says 262,447 patients are without drugs

Etok explained that out of the 304,447 persons identified as having HIV in the state, only 24,000 patients are on anti-retroviral therapy.

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The Akwa Ibom Agency for the Control of AIDS (AK-SACA) says 262,447 persons living with HIV in the state do not take any anti-retroviral therapy (ART).

The Project Manager, AK-SACA, Dr Nkereuwem Etok, disclosed this on Friday in Uyo while presenting situation reports at the Akwa Ibom 2017 HIV/AIDS Summit.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the summit has the theme, “HIV/AIDS in Akwa Ibom State: Taking charge of our destiny”.

Etok explained that out of the 304,447 persons identified as having HIV in the state, only 24,000 patients are on anti-retroviral therapy (ART).

He lamented that the HIV prevalence in the state had always been the higher national figure, explaining that the 2014 national sentinel survey placed the state at 10.8 per cent.

Etok said that the major challenges of HIV/AIDS programmes in the state included poor funding from the state government as well as activities of religious groups claiming cure for HIV/AIDS.

The project manager said that transfer of funds to pregnant women each day of visiting health facilities had increased uptake of ante natal clinic services.

In a lead paper presentation on the theme of the summit, Dr Augustine Umoh of the University of Uyo, said that HIV scourge could lead to poverty among families.

“Many families are living in poverty because resources are diverted to funding treatment of persons living with the virus,” Umoh said.

Umoh, who is the Acting Provost, College of Health Sciences, University of Uyo, called for allocated of 15 per cent of the state annual budget to health services in the state.

The don called for proper funding of AK-SACA and implementation of health insurance scheme in the state to ease the burden of healthcare funding.

In his presentation, the Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr Sani Aliyu, said that future funding of HIV cases would be through Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs).

Aliyu called on the Akwa Ibom government to equip its primary healthcare facilities to benefit from HIV funding in future.

Speaking on the update on anti-retroviral therapy, optimising HIV/AIDS treatment to achieve 90-90-90 target by 2020 in Akwa Ibom, Aliyu said that World Bank funding would terminate in February.

He explained that 90 per cent of HIV patients would know their status, 90 per cent would be diagnosed and treated, while 90 per cent would have suppressed viral loads by 2020.

He called on the Akwa Ibom government to release funds to AK-SACA and also create more facilities for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in the state.

Aliyu noted that in the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years, all the allocations to HIV issues in the budget of the state had not been released.

The director-general noted AK-SACA was being owed N320 million by the state government and called for the release of the fund to enhance its activities.

Earlier, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Dominic Ukpong, had noted that the 2014 national sentinel survey placing Akwa Ibom at 10.8 per cent was alarming.

Ukpong said that the state government would work hard to reduce the trend by training its workforce, collaborating with stakeholders and mounting aggressive sensitisation campaigns.

He said that the theme of the summit was a wake-up call on the state government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and individuals to rise up against the scourge in the state.

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