AHF Nigeria hit a milestone in December 2016 of providing free rapid HIV tests to 1 million Nigerians over five years. This outstanding accomplishment comes on the heels of the just-concluded 2016 World AIDS Day commemoration and coincides with the country program’s fifth anniversary.
As of Dec. 1, 2016, a total of 1,008,752 persons in Nigeria have been reached with rapid HIV tests, of them 17,172 have been diagnosed as HIV positive and over 10,000 are already on treatment.
With a hint of excitement, AHF Nigeria prevention program manager, Elizabeth Duile highlighted the significance of this feat. “Knowing one’s HIV status is simply the first step toward HIV prevention. Providing rapid HIV testing services to 1 million people means more individuals have been empowered to either remain HIV negative or live positively with dignity and avoid stigma and discrimination.”
Since inception in August 2011, AHF Nigeria has worked closely with the Federal Ministry of Health, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), UNAIDS and like minded partners to provide cutting-edge services to Nigerians in both urban and rural settings. AHF Nigeria continues to work painstakingly to bridge testing and treatment gaps in the country through its innovative HIV services.
“This achievement is attributed to the tireless and dedicated effort of the field level staff, state and country program staff, and those who volunteer their time and expertise to move AHF’s mission forward. It is amazing how much we can achieve when we work together!” said Dr. Adetayo Towolawi, Country Program Manager, AHF Nigeria. “Furthermore, our strategic partnership with Community Based Organizations (CBOs), stakeholders at all levels, Federal, State, and Local Government Ministries and Departments of Health, and the media contributed greatly to this attainment.”
The impact of AHF’s work in Nigeria in the past five years was succinctly captured in some of the fifth anniversary goodwill messages that poured in from partners and stakeholders.
“We are very proud of the work that AHF does in bringing services closer to the people. They have shown great promise and commitment to the national HIV/AIDS response alongside other partners and we would like to extend our gratitude, as we continue to work closely together for the benefit of all Nigerians,” said Mr. Yekini Oloyede, Director SCMS, NASCP- Federal Ministry of Health.
“The UNAIDS Country Office in Nigeria under my leadership congratulates you for five years of success stories and achievements in Nigeria. Indeed, AHF is the voice of the voiceless. Thank you for caring for the most vulnerable. Congratulations for your activism, your provision of quality services and your frank and powerful support to girls and women,” said Dr. Bilali Camara, Country Director, UNAIDS.
Nigeria, with a population of about 180 million people, has the second highest burden of HIV after South Africa. Despite progress made in the HIV/AIDS response, only about 45% of Nigerians know their HIV status. Given the country’s population size, this figure indicates that much more needs to be done to bolster Nigeria’s testing efforts.
Congratulating AHF Nigeria, AHF Africa Bureau Chief Dr. Penninah Iutung Amor charged the team to not rest on their oars. “Today I congratulate you for ending the year on a very remarkable note, by reaching over 1 million Nigerians with testing services. The testing gap in Nigeria is still a major source of concern, one that requires more targeted strategies and political will to bridge. I am confident that with what you have done so far and with the support of stakeholders, you will reach millions more.”