The United States government has donated about $90 million to support the forthcoming HIV survey in Nigeria.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the survey.
The agreement was signed by the minister, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, and the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA).
The survey, tagged Nigeria Aids Indicators and Impact Survey (NAIIS), is the largest in the world and Nigeria is the 12th country conducting it.
It will begin in June and last for about six months across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT). It aims to reach a sample size of about 170,000 people.
“The resources for the survey is largely from the US government. Directly they are giving us about $90million and indirectly they are working with other partners to ensure the success of the survey,” the minister said.
“The survey will put behind us the concept of making guess work in terms of burden of HIV disease in Nigeria. We do not know how many people are infected, so this study will enable us get a precise number.
“This survey is not only about HIV, but about Hepatitis B and C. This survey will also help us to drive forward the agenda to cure Nigeria of Hepatitis C. As you know, Hepatitis C now has a cure.
“Also, people who test positive will be placed on treatment, as having HIV is not the end of the world,” he said.
The minister urged that politics be not mixed with the survey.
“For us as a country, we owe it a duty as a government to make sure that it works and to ensure that politics is excluded from the entire work.
“It is mainly a scientific process and we will publish the data as it is. It will be totally free of politics and free of government interference so we can discover the real state of HIV in the country. It will serve as a drive to our effort to control the epidemic,” he said.
The Director-General of NACA, Sani Aliyu, said the survey will help solve the problem of accurate data and also provide precise information of the coverage of HIV in Nigeria.
He said it will also reveal that Nigeria has used the resources provided for them.
Mr Aliyu urged Nigerians to make themselves available for the survey, to enable accurate and precise results, as every Nigerian is needed to make the study a success.
In his remark, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, urged Nigerians to contribute their resources and time to ensure the success of the survey.
He said the survey, which will serve as an example to the rest of the world, will bring the HIV epidemic under control.
“It is the joy of everybody in the United States to make Nigerians healthy. This survey, this partnership, this opportunity will set an example for Nigeria and to the whole world.
“This is in the power of every Nigerian to participate in the survey. In the world today, people are trying to do what no human being have ever done before and that is to bring to a close a terrible disease without a proven cure and the remedy here is us.
“An epidemic control has not yet been achieved anywhere, but with this effort the government of Nigeria in partnership with this extraordinary team of partners funded by every man, woman and child in the United States of America, a huge success will be achieved, as one thing everyone can do this year, is to help make this survey a success,” he said.