The Gombe State Government of Friday launched the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) self-testing campaign targeted to get 500,000 persons to know their status.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr Ahmed Gana, at the launch said that the event would help consolidate on the gains the state had achieved in the fight against HIV.
According to Gana, the exercise will create more awareness in the fight against the disease in the state so that “we dont assume that HIV/AIDS is over. It is not over but it is almost over.
“We have made a lot of progress because 14 years back, we were at 8.3 per cent prevalence of HIV/AIDS but currently we are at 1.3 per cent; so we are doing very well in Gombe State.
“The exercise is a private public partnership. The singular request that we got from this organisation is for Gombe State Government to support by procuring a minimum of 200, 000 test kits.
“I gave them a pledge that I would take this issue forward to Gov. Inuwa Yahaya and we are sure he will approach that significantly, the commissioner assured.”
Dr Walter Ugwuocha, the Executive Secretary, Civil Society for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CiSHAN), said that the initiative would help address the challenge of testing people for their HIV status in the country, adding “we are doing well in treatment and viral suppression.
“Nationally, we are not doing well in testing; we have persons who do not know their status. So this campaign is geared towards getting 10 million Nigerians to know their HIV status through self testing.”
Ugwuocha stated that the initiative would address the issue of phobia for testing as “ a person can test himself without having to go to hospitals or assisted to be tested and without involving blood draws.
“Based on treatment, we have done well in Nigeria. Between 2000 and 2005, we had 210,008 HIV-related deaths, between 2005 and 2010 113, 000 and now we have 53, 000.
“ There are 24,000 persons that are on treatment in Gombe State and 90 per cent of those persons are virally suppressed; meaning they cannot transmit the virus. This is commendable,” he said.
He said that the campaign in Gombe State is aimed at testing 500, 000 persons, stressing that the reliability of the testing is 99.7 per cent and is being used in over 70 countries of the world.
He called on the media and other stakeholders to intensify awareness in the area of testing, adding that a lot of progress had been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS as a result of awareness creation