HIV self-testing campaign launched in Gombe, as CiSHAN targets 500, 000
By Auwal Ahmad
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) self-testing campaign targeted to get 500,000 persons tested to know their status in Gombe State has been launched.
Dr Walter Ugwuocha, the Executive Secretary, Civil Society for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CiSHAN) at the launch said the initiative would help address the challenge of testing in the country, adding “we are doing well in treatment and viral suppression.
“Nationally, we are not doing well in testing; we have persons who do not know their status. So this campaign is geared towards getting 10 million Nigerians to know their HIV status through self testing.
Ugwuocha stated that the initiative would address the issue of phobia for testing as “ a person could test himself without having to go to hospitals or assisted to be tested and without involving blood draws.
He stated that the emphasis of the exercise was because of the role of testing in knowing the number of persons that should be put on treatment; when that is done, we can heave a sigh of relief.
“Based on treatment, we have done well in Nigeria. Between 2000 and 2005 in Nigeria we had 210,008 HIV-related deaths annually, between 2005 and 2010 113, 000 and now we have 53, 000.
“ There are 24, 000 persons that are on treatment in Gombe state and 90 per cent of those persons are virally suppressed meaning they cannot transmit the virus. This is commendable, he said.
He said that the campaign in Gombe state was aimed at testing 500, 000 persons, stressing that the reliability of the testing is 99.7 per cent and is used in over 70 countries of the world.
” We have 500, 000 target for Gombe State and we have appealed to the state government as we met with the S.S.G where we appealed to the state government to procurre 200, 000 testing kits to be distributed across health centres in the state while the remaining 300, 000, people will go and buy. This is why we are campaigning to organisations and all stakeholders to assist in meeting this target.
The executive secretary said the testing kits was not free as a pack costs N1, 600 while the duration between the actual testing and receiving result is 20 minutes.
He called on the media and other stakeholders to intensify awareness in the area of testing, adding that a lot of progress had been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS as a result of awareness creation.
The Honourable Commissioner of Health, Dr Ahmed Gana who launched the campaign in Gombe, said the event would help consolidate on the gains the state had achieved in the fight against HIV.
Gana stated that the exercise would create more awareness in the fight against the disease in the state so that “we dont assume that HIV/AIDS is over. It is not over but it is almost over.
“We have made a lot of progress because 14 years back, we were at 8.3 per cent prevalence of HIV/AIDS but currently we are at 1.3 per cent; so we are doing very well in Gombe.
“The exercise is a private public partnership. The singular request that we got from this organization is for Gombe State Government to support by procuring a minimum of 200, 000 test kits.
“I gave them a pledge that I would take this issue forward to His Excellency, Gov Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State and we are sure he will approach that significantly, the commissioner assured.