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Nigeria says 50,000 AIDS patients now on ARV therapy By Tume Ahemba

Posted by Yahoo News on 2005/08/16 | Views: 383 |

Nigeria says 50,000 AIDS patients now on ARV therapy By Tume Ahemba


The number of Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS who are receiving subsidized life-saving drugs has risen five-fold to about 50,000 in three years, a government anti-AIDS body said on Tuesday.

The number of Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS who are receiving subsidized life-saving drugs has risen five-fold to about 50,000 in three years, a government anti-AIDS body said on Tuesday.

A treatment program launched by the government in 2002 was nearly crippled by funding problems last year, but it was revived by an inflow of cash from donors including the United States, the Global AIDS Fund and the Nigerian private sector.

"We reckon that about 50,000 infected people are now receiving anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment nationwide," Babatunde Osotimehin, chairman of the National Action Committee Against AIDS (NACA), told Reuters.

Around 14,000 people are on the federal government program, 17,000 are being treated with the assistance from the Global Fund, and 10,000 by the U.S. AIDS relief program, while the remainder are supported by state governments and the private sector, he added.

Osotimehin said Nigeria was on course to achieve a target of extending the therapy to 250,000 Nigerians by next year, although he said the necessary funds were still not in place.

"We are optimistic of achieving the target. We are already working with our partners and also reaching out to raise more resources to meet the target by 2006," Osotimehin said.

But groups campaigning for greater access to treatment for the 3.5 million Nigerians infected with the virus said the number of people on ARVs was far lower.

"I don't think the number of people on ARVs is as high as NACA claims. The number should be around 30,000, even with the (U.S. President George) Bush initiative," said Pat Matemilola, national coordinator of the Network of People Living with

HIV/AIDS.

DRUGS COCKTAIL

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, launched an ambitious anti-AIDS program in 2002 with an initial target of providing subsidized drugs from India to 10,000 adults and 5,000 children.

The cocktail of drugs costs 7,000-10,000 naira per patient per month on the open market, far above the purchasing power of the average Nigerian, while the subsidized rate is 1,000 naira per patient.

ARV prices have been falling since a new Nigerian ARV pill factory owned by local firm Fidson Healthcare Ltd began production in May.

Nigeria is the world's eighth largest oil exporter, but two thirds of its 140 million people live on less than a dollar a day. The quality of health care has fallen dramatically over the last two decades.

Campaigners argue that many Nigerians living with the virus are too poor to afford even the subsidized cost and have interrupted their treatment, building resistance to the pills.

About one in every 11 adults living with the HIV virus in the world is a Nigerian, and one out of 13 new infections happen in the West African country, health officials said.

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Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

ULIMASI means' GOD,THANK YOU' not THANK GOD.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding