The US President Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has spent about $4.7billion in the past 14 years to fight HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
The Country Director, US Public Health Service, Mahesh Swaminathan, stated this on Thursday at a press conference attended by Nigerian officials on the forthcoming Nigeria Aids Indicators and Impact Survey (NAIIS) in Abuja.
NAIIS is a national household survey to be conducted by the Nigerian government with support from PEPFAR and other partners.
The survey, which will begin in June, will last for about six months and cover the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), aims to reach a sample size of about 170,000 people.
“PEPFAR in collaboration with the Global Fund is partnering with Nigeria to fund this survey. Despite previous efforts that has been made, the US government is glad to support this survey. The result from the survey will help us control the HIV epidemic in the country,” he said.
Mr Swaminathan said PEPFAR will continue to work with the Nigerian government to reach more people living with HIV and also put more people of them on treatment.
The Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), Sani Aliyu, said the planned HIV survey is the largest in the world and Nigeria is the 12th country conducting this survey.
“This survey, which aims to reach about 170,000 people in the country is the largest to be conducted in the world. It will assess the uptake of HIV behaviors in the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT,” Mr Aliyu said.
“NAIIS will offer household based HIV counselling and testing, as well as Hepatitis B and C testing. Those who test positive for any of the tests will be referred to suitable health facilities to receive appropriate service,” he said.
Mr Aliyu said, the results of the survey will provide key information that will guide the government to plan and develop more effective programmes to control HIV and Hepatitis in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, said the survey will go a long way to provide accurate data of those living with HIV in the country.
Represented by his Senior Special Assistant, Community Health and Health Management, Araoye Segilola, Mr Adewole said the survey would improve the health indices of the country, and enable government deploy resources to where they are most needed.
“Before now, Nigeria has no precise data of people living with HIV/AIDS. The survey will provide precise data of those affected by the epidemic. The data will help us plan better, provide resources, procure drugs and distribute them to the right people at their various locations.” he said.
In his speech, UNAIDS Country Director, Erasmus Morah, said the US family is excited to be working with the Nigeria government to fight HIV in the country.
He stated that the survey will not only reveal the prevalence of HIV in Nigeria, it will also help discover the locations of people living with the HIV virus.
Mr Morah, however. sai, it will be a shame if the federal and state government are not able to build the capacity of Nigerian institutions after this very large survey.