The United States Government has said there are about 81,000 People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Delta State out of the approximately 1.9 million people living with the virus in Nigeria.
It expressed concerned over the negative effect of user-fees charged to PLHIV by health care facilities in Nigeria. These fees, according to the US Government, include charges for non-essential services like registration, initial lab investigations, or those already covered by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
The US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Kathleen FitzGibbon, raised this concern on Thursday when she led a delegation on a courtesy visit to the Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, as the state launched the US-supported Anti-retroviral Treatment Surge.
FitzGibbon urged the governor to ensure the immediate elimination of the fees, saying there was a need to identify and put PLHIV on life-saving ART.
She noted that the programme was aimed at ensuring that PLHIV live a long, normal, productive, and healthy life and help in breaking the transmission of the virus.
She urged Okowa to prioritise the procurement of additional HIV test kits to support the current PEPFAR-initiated surge efforts.
“The PEPFAR programme administered by the US Centers for Disease Control is implementing an ART surge programme in Delta State to rapidly identify and provide treatment to people living with HIV.
“The recent data released from the US-supported Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey revealed that there are approximately 1.9 million people still living with the virus in Nigeria, with about 81,000 people in Delta State. These people require appropriate medical treatment to live a normal life,” she said.
Okowa said the state government had been offering free maternal services to pregnant women and children in the state through its equity plan in the health contributory scheme.