The United States of America, has chosen to mete out their punishment on Nigeria for refusing to be pushed into accepting and approving gay relationships in the country by drastically reducing their Human Immuno Virus, HIV support to Nigeria. This heart-rending revelation was made by Hon. Afe Olowookere, in his presentation on behalf of House Committee on HIV/AIDS on Tuesday.
As a result of the slash, the lives of about 1,884,618 people living with HIV in Nigeria may be lost unless the Government is able to make available the sum of N58 billion naira needed for the purchase of the Anti Retroviral drugs used for their treatment.
A very high percentage of HIV patients in Nigeria depend to a very large extent on the Anti Retroviral Therapy that comes from the government of the United States and Global Fund.
As Mr. Afe further divulged, HIV assistance from the United States government and the Global Fund are very tremendous as they both cater for up to 95 percent of the national HIV/AIDS treatment programme in Nigeria. According to him:
“Presently, the US government has scaled down its scale-up of service in the remaining 737 Local Government areas.
“In addition, the US government has also withdrawn support for laboratory services which the people living with HIV, PLWHIV, on ART requires to conduct periodically to monitor their state of health.”
Also, in the 2016 budget, only N1.5 billion was allotted to the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), for HIV/AIDS activities. This is a heavy slash from the 10 billion allocated to agency under the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme, SURE-P last year.
To make the 2030 global target for 90-90-90 a reality, Afe said it is paramount for the Federal Government to either pump in more cash into the national response to AIDS or stand a chance of experiencing another round of HIV/AIDS outbreak which will increase the number of People Living With HIV/AIDS from the currently estimated 3,200,000 (with about 2,592,000 presently on ART), to God-knows-what.
During the budget defence, the Appropriation Committee led by Abdulmumin Jibrin pointed out that the real cost for treating a single HIV patient is 110,000 but subsidised at N31, 243 every year.
This is quite a heart-breaking news for people living with HIV in Nigeria. America probably wants to take advantage of our present economic crisis in order to manipulate the leadership of Nigeria into reconsidering their stand on the issue of gay relationship, if not, then I wonder why they chose now of all times to implement the reduction. I however believe that the Federal Government will take up the challenge and prove to America that we can survive without them.