The Federal Government has launched the 2016 National guidelines for HIV prevention, treatment and care.
At the launch in Abuja, Minister of State for Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire said the event climaxed the journey that Nigeria embarked upon in 2001 in search for a stable and sustainable system for the delivery of HIV/AIDS services.
He said the guidelines were informed by the basic principles of equality, equity and social justice, adding that they aligned with the universal declarations of human rights by promoting universal access to comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care for all persons in Nigeria.
Dr.Ehanire enumerated some of the highlights of the Guidelines to include: Test and Treat, meaning that everyone who tests positive to HIV is, without exception, immediately eligible for treatment, not omitting pregnant women in the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme, all persons who are at risk of contracting HIV infection are to be offered antiretroviral drugs as prevention.
The Guidelines also stated that all persons on treatment are entitled to at least one free viral load test annually and that great emphasis shall be placed on differentiated systems of care that are adjustable to the individual needs of the patients.
While commending the contributions of partners like PEPFAR and other UN Agencies like UNAIDS, Clinton Health Access Initiative, Civil Society Organizations and frontline health workers for their contributions, he urged Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) supporting HIV interventions to close ties with the Federal and State Ministries of Health, and also called on the body of People Living with HIV /AIDs to come fully on board.
Mr. Obatunde Oladapo, Executive Director, PLAN Health Advocacy and Development Foundation, Ibadan was of the opinion that Nigeria should revise the treatment for People living with HIV, stressing that empowering patients with vital information on treatment and monitoring of treatment of PLWHIV are imperative to reduction of infection.
He also noted that stigmatization of people living with HIV was a barrier to access to treatment adding that government should step up its campaign against discrimination of people living with HIV and AIDS.