HIV/AIDS: Borno agency screens 1.7m persons in 3 years

#TrackNigeria: The Borno State Agency for Control of AIDS and Malaria (BOSACAM) says it has conducted HIV screening for over 1.7 million persons in the past three years.

The Secretary of the agency, Mr Barkindo Saidu, disclosed this in an interview on Wednesday in Maiduguri.

Saidu disclosed that 1,171,812 individuals were screened under the HIV Status Assessment Programme at 101 designated HIV Testing Service (HTS) centres and Preventing Mother-To-Child Transmission (PTMCT) between 2016 and 2018.

He said about 2,855 new cases were identified of the 104,028 individuals screened in 2018, while 2,206 of them placed on drugs.

The secretary revealed that 25,512 clients were placed on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) in 12 centres in Maiduguri, liberated communities and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the state.

“The essence of placing them on drugs is to suppress the viral load to contain transmission.

“We achieved 8,934 viral load suppression, this means that the clients can have all sort of interactions without causing infection to others,” Saidu said.

He said the agency recorded significant successes in the campaign against the scourge despite lack of adequate funding, utility vehicle and security challenges militating against smooth outreaches in displaced communities.

“There was no budget release to the agency since 2016; we tasked ourselves and utilise the meagre support from donors to enable us execute our programmes and participate in HIV campaign activities.

“Improved funding is imperative to ensure effective service delivery, encourage people to know their HIV status and control the scourge”.

The secretary noted that adequate funding was necessary to actualise the vision 90:90:90; which entails that 90 per cent of people in each community should know their HIV status, enhance access to drugs, testing and counselling services.

According to him, the management of the agency had utilised N5 million released by the state government for procurement of stationaries, used the balance and rehabilitated its office.

While commending the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), FHI 360 and United Nations Air Mission over their supports, he called on the state government to ensure adequate funding to enhance its operations.

He also called on the state Houses of Assembly to enact legislations to compel couples to know their HIV status before marriage.

The 2019 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), indicated 1.3 prevalent rate of the scourge in the state. (NAN)