By Prudence Ijah
In a bid to improve access to HIV testing, the Civil Society for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CiSHAN) says it is targeting 10 million Nigerians for HIV testing.
The Executive Secretary of CISHAN, Dr Walter Ugwuocha says it is key to reach the unreached population especially the adolescents, young persons and other vulnerable populations.
CISHAN disclosed that the Nigerian AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (2018) results shows that Nigeria is lagging behind in achieving the 1st 95, of the 95-95-95 target by 2030.
Adding that the COVID-19 lockdown significantly decreased access of vulnerable population to HIV testing.
Dr Walter Ugwuocha who made the disclosure at a media roundtable for the commencement of the National Campaign for HIV self testing in Nigeria, said the HIV self testing campaign will help close the huge HIV testing gaps and ensure the country reaches the first 95 in the HIV response.
He noted that CISHAN volunteers identified multiple individuals who seeks for where to get tested, a gap that could be addressed through access to self-test kits.
In his words, he said, “the strategy is focused on creating awareness and demand for HIV self-testing in Nigeria. We intend to utilize over 5000 members of the organization located in the 774 local government areas of Nigeria, to facilitate access to HIV self testing kits in both rural and hard to reach areas”.
“The campaign will lead to increase in the number of Nigerians who have tested for HIV which is 10million by end of 2020.
As well as identification of the newly diagnosed HIV positive individuals and linking them to treatment in partnership with the Lead Implementing Partners for each state “.
The Chief Executive Officer of Centre for Integrated Health Programs, Dr Bola Oyeledun said that her organization in collaboration with other Ngos have tested over 2 million people .
” We work in synergy with other organizations in different states of the country. We have reached over 1,800 vulnerable children in Lagos, Kogi, Benue Kaduna,and Gombe state.”
“We are also in suport from CISHAN engaged in awareness campaign to reach a wide number of people. We are testing vulnerable orphans in some Local Government Area in Lagos State.”