By Ndidi Chukwu
The Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) wants the Nigerian Government to create an opportunity for the next generation of the nation by committing to end Mother to Child Transmission of HIV.
New NEPWHAN Coordinator Victor Omoshehin at the inauguration of the new executives of the network called for empowerment of its members to be able to take responsibilities for the cost of their treatment. Out of 3.8 Million Nigerians living with HIV, only 747,382 are accessing drugs, in which many have been forced to discontinue their treatment due to new charges attached to HIV treatment in the country.
“It is a fact that over 75% of treatment, care and support of services for HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis is being sponsored by international donors. Meanwhile, they were also responsible for providing free access to a range of tests that help maintain quality of life which includes CD4 counts, viral load tests among other baseline screening which used to be free for all, but now costs N2, 000 to N5, 000 a monumental sum for a population where 70% live on less than N400 a day.” Omoshehin said
The Network considers the increased GDP “a loss” to its members as the Nigerian government is yet to show commitment to cater for its members.
“We recommend to Nigerian government that the most urgent task facing us as a nation today and for decades ahead is to create opportunity for the next generation as no Nigerian Child deserves to be born with HIV infection and over 1.5 million children are said to be orphaned by AIDS annually.” Omoshehin said.
The Network wants antiretroviral drugs available to every pregnant woman living with HIV to reduce the rate of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV in Nigeria.