‘Nigeria making progress in HIV response despite Covid-19’

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Nigeria made considerable progress in HIV response in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, Peer Review Forum (PRF), a civil society organisation (CSO), has disclosed.

PRF’s chairperson, Ize Adava, made the disclosure Friday in Abuja in her address of welcome at the 2021 edition of the annual Civil Society Accountability Forum.

She said stakeholders had to adapt and adopt strategies that ensured HIV service delivery was not disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that HIV services included multi-month dispensing of anti-retroviral therapy through community-based deliveries and more.

Adava also said there had been a 30 per cent increase in anti-retroviral therapy coverage over the four-year period 2016 to 2020.

“The existing HIV infrastructure has been very pertinent in the Covid-19 response as some existing HIV and tuberculosis laboratories were repurposed to increase their diagnostic capacity for Covid-19.

“While Nigeria made progress in HIV response, the social and economic impact of Covid-19 on several populations may have indirect consequences on the progress toward the control of Covid-19,” she said.

Adava disclosed that a UNAIDS report on the “Economic impact of Covid-19 on Women in Nigeria” stated that 83 per cent of respondents were without means for daily sustenance during the 2020 lockdown.

She said 35 per cent of respondents could not pay or underpaid their accommodation rents in 2021.

Twenty-three per cent of them had to move in with other people because of the financial difficulties they encountered since 2020 when the pandemic began.

Adava said further that 33 per cent of respondents, inclusive of 25 per cent adolescent girls, are currently in situations of sexual and gender-based violence.

She said that these statistics would have a negative impact on the gains CSOs had made with HIV control.

Adava said there were cases of AIDS starting to show up where it was not known, adding that critical efforts needed to be made to mitigate the indirect impact of social and economic consequences of Covid-19 on HIV response. (NAN)