By Ifeanyi Olannye
Dr John Osuyali, Executive Secretary, Delta State Agency for Control of HIV and AIDs (DELSACA) on Tuesday, said no fewer than 45, 000 HIV/AIDS patients were placed on treatment in the state.
Osuyali stated this at a ceremony in Asaba to mark this year’s World AIDs Day with the theme, “United to End AIDS in the midst of COVID-19.”
He said with 45,000 people placed on treatment as at Nov. 30, the agency had covered over 75 per cent of HIV positive persons in the state.
He said that the result of the 2018 survey indicated that no fewer than 63,000 persons were HIV positive in the state.
Osuyali said that the agency attained th feat of 75 per cent coverage due to the commitment of the state government and support from partner agencies and organisations.
The executive secretary said the agencies and organisations worked assiduously during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic lockdown to achieve result.
He said that from the rate of the coverage, there would be no new cases of HIV in Delta by 2030, adding that before then, every person in the state was expected to have known his/her status.
Osuyali called on the people to explore the opportunity provided by the agency to get tested, adding that testing centres had been provided in all the 25 Local Government Areas of the state.
The executive secretary said that the agency and its partners adopted a proactive strategy which made it possible to test and treat people at home during the lockdown.
“December 1, is a day set aside to create awareness among the population to remind them that HIV is still with us and to identify with people living with the virus.
“On the theme, you are all aware of the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the world and is still ravaging the world this year. In the midst of it, we are still trying to survive managing the HIV/AIDs,” he said.
He said that COVID-19 lockdown provided the agency the opportunity to reach people at their homes and adopt strategies that really worked for it.
Osuyali said DELSACA had exceeded the target set for it by Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa to find all the people that have contracted HIV in the state and place them on treatment.
“As at Dec. 31, 2019, we have 22,700 people on treatment, it took us close to 15 years to generate this figure.
“As I speak to you now, in less than 11 months (January to November 2020) we had 45, 000 people on treatmen., That is 100 per cent achievement.
“The beauty of it is that all those on treatment now are all virally suppressed; they cannot transmit the virus to any other person,” he said.
On his part, Dr Eugene Onu, State Team Lead, CARITAS, a partner organisation, said Delta was placed on red state with high HIV prevalence of about 1.9 per cent.
He, however, said that due to the support from the state government and other partners, a significant success had been recorded in checking the menace.
“We are hopeful that the next survey in Delta state will witness significant reduction,” he said.
Also, Hope Nwadishi, Coordinator, Koyenum Immalah Foundation, a partner, said despite COVID-19 pandemic, there was need to preach the message of prevention and to help those who already tested positive.
“This is why we have all gathered here today united and in one voice to sensitise people to know the status not just here in Delta but across the world,” he said.