The United States Government has provided testing and counselling to over 12 million Nigerians over the last 12 months.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, who disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday at an event to mark the 2016 World AIDS Day, said this was being done through the U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR.
According to the envoy, 726,200 adults and 34,695 children are receiving treatment for HIV under the programme.
He said a total of 1,367,000 adults and children have been helped to live better lives through the U.S programme.
Speaking under the 2016 theme of the commemoration: “Leadership. Sustained Commitment. Impact”, Mr Symington emphasized the need for Nigerians to be involved in strengthening their country’s health system.
“We can spend billions of dollars literally, tens of billions of dollars around the world and billions of dollars in Nigeria, but if you don’t strengthen your own health system at home and in the office and around the country, if you don’t invest your lives and your love, who else will do it for you? No one can do it for you”, he said.
The Country Coordinator of the programme in Nigeria, Shirley Dady, also spoke about the need to encourage more Nigerians to get tested for HIV.
She likened the disease to other chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes, which can be managed.
Ms. Dady told PREMIUM TIMES she was hopeful that the HIV self-testing kits, which is a new technology, will be available in Nigeria “at some point”.
She, however, said many general hospitals and primary health care centres in the country were offering HIV tests and urged Nigerians to take advantage of them.