Osun state records reduction in incidence of HIV infections

Segun Adegoke, Osogbo

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The Government of Osun State in South-west Nigeria has  recorded a reduction in new HIV infections in the state. The State Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke made this statement on Tuesday at the launch of the SURGE PROJECT organized by Excellence Community Education Welfare Scheme (ECEWS) in Osogbo, the state capital.
According to the State Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, represented at the event by his Deputy, Kola Adewusi, in expressing his satisfaction with the steps that have been carried out towards improving access to HIV testing and treatment services, said In addition, we have made progress in reducing new HIV infections, particularly among adolescent girls and young women, who are three times more likely to be infected with HIV than their male counterparts. 


Speaking on the efforts to strengthen existing systems and promote stakeholder involvement he said “I am pleased to report that we have made significant strides in improving access to HIV testing and treatment services, thanks to the collective efforts of the government, our partners (ECEWS), the dedicated health workers who are on the frontlines of this fight and our funder (US government through the Centre for Disease control)”.
Adeleke said the main thrust of the project was to provide free HIV preventive and treatment services to thousands of people, including children, pregnant women, and key populations.
He noted that thousands of residents of the state had benefited from free testing and treatment services which accounted for a leap in treatment coverage by 12% in the first 5 months of active surge implementation.
The Governor added that more people living with HIV could access the lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs, prophylaxis, and other essential services to stay healthy and thrive.
In terms of reducing and preventing new infections, Adeleke said emphasis was placed on adolescent girls and young women owing to their susceptibility.
“We know that the driving factor is inequality, and so we are working to combine services for sexual and reproductive health with services for preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence and HIV, to design interventions that work for all women and girls, in all their diversity. 
“Ensuring all pregnant women have access to HIV testing services and treatment as needed will keep us in focus for an HIV free generation. I implore all Osun indigenes and dwellers to ensure they know their status and adopt healthy lifestyles,” he added.
Also speaking, the the US Consul General, Will Stevens, harped on the need to conduct more HIV tests in the state to reach out to those who do not know their status yet, adding that the purpose of the SURGE PROJECT was to reach out to more people and ensure that carriers of the virus commence treatment immediately.
He noted that over 13,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS in the state were yet to commence treatment, calling for a massive outreach to get to them.
“we need a community of partnerships. We need the government, police, civil societies and implementing partners. We need more hands in America to work together. 
“It is going to take that combined effort to reach our most vulnerable citizens. Write those people who have been cast aside, those people who are often ignored and downtrodden and work together to find them. 
“Make them feel safe, and make them feel like they can come and get tested, get treatment and spread the message that HIV is not a death sentence, “ he said.
Head of Legal Service, ECWS Project Director of HIV treatment for Osun, Ekiti and Delta states, Dr Okezie Onyedinachi also stressed the need to reach all the over 29,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS before the year 2025.
She said “we have to do things differently, entering into the communities and providing opportunities for people to know their HIV status and get treatment across Osun State.”
Also speaking, the Osun State Coordinator of Network of People living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Roseline Awoyemi highlighted the efforts of the organisation and improvements recorded. She said the community testers had been going to core places in the state to reach more people for tests and treatment.
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