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IHVN Applauds Rivers State Stoppage of PLHIV User Fees


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Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) Director Prevention, Care and Treatment, Dr. Ernest Ernest Ekong, has applauded the announcement by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, to stop all user fees collected from people living with HIV/AIDS who want to access treatment at state-owned facilities.

Dr. Ekong said that the pronouncement by the Governor during a courtesy visit of the Institute and Visiting American Delegation from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDC), is critical in encouraging people living with HIV to access treatment.

“When you get patients to pay for investigations and also pay for consultations anytime they come, it limits the ability to see them in our setting because some cannot afford those fees. A fee as low as N300 can become a problem to the patient. Why this is very exciting is because Rivers State has the highest burden in terms of absolute number of persons infected with HIV in the country,” he said.

imagesDuring the courtesy visit, USCDC HIV Care and Treatment Branch Chief, Dr. Ted Ellerbrock, had said “210, 000 persons were currently infected with HIV/AIDS in the state. Out of this number, only 40, 000 patients are on anti-retroviral treatment.”

Dr. Ellerbrock stated that the United States Government is funding IHVN in the effort to identify and provide treatment to people living with HIV in all the 23 local government areas in the state.

The recently released Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) pegged the country’s prevalence rate at 1.4%. However, this national percentage does not represent the prevalence in individual states like Akwa Ibom State which has the highest prevalence of 5.5% prevalence followed by Benue State with 5.3% prevalence and then Rivers State with 3.8% prevalence rate.

According to Dr. Ekong, the Institute is enthusiastic to fight HIV in Rivers state and is planning strategies to do tackle the disease effectively.

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