By Becky John
The U.S. government has said that its development agency, the Agency for International Development (USAID), has inaugurated a special issue of a Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS) for West and Central Africa. In a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday the U.S. Embassy said the journal was part of the U.S. government’s contribution toward mitigating the impact of HIV and AIDS in the regions.
It said that more than 6.5 million people were infected with HIV in West and Central Africa. It said the journal was entitled: “HIV Risks and Vulnerabilities among Key Populations in West and Central Africa – Evidence to Inform HIV Prevention, Treatment, and Care.”
According to it, the journal is in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Center for AIDS Research, the Foundation for AIDS Research, and the National Institutes of Health.
“Over 6.5million people live with HIV in West and Central Africa, a region that spans 24 countries and has a population of over 350million people.”This amounts to an average HIV prevalence rate of 4.9 per cent in the general population.
“However, in West Africa, the prevalence is significantly higher among key populations – a term for populations known to be at greater risk of infection.
“This group includes female sex workers and their clients, men who have sex with men, and people who inject drugs,” it said.
The statement explained that until now, limited data had been an obstacle to fully understand the dynamics of HIV transmission related to these high-risk populations in the region. To fill this gap, USAID, the funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), provided technical and financial assistance for this special JAIDS issue. PEPFAR is the U.S. Government initiative to help save the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS around the world.
It said the journal featured 23 articles characterizing risks, vulnerabilities, and HIV prevention and treatment opportunities among the key populations. “The articles present data from 11 different countries in the region, including Nigeria.
“They also show a wide range of analyses that use mathematical modeling, epidemiologic studies, qualitative studies, cost-effectiveness assessments and policy assessments,” the embassy said.
The statement said the programme was the largest commitment by any country to combat a single disease internationally.