African Union Will Eliminate HIV/AIDS in Africa by 2030 – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday said African Union member-states had resolved to eliminate HIV and AIDS in the continent by 2030.

Jonathan gave the assurance at a special sensitization programme to commemorate the World AIDS Day at Bwari, FCT.

The President, who was represented by Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, the Minister of Health, said continued spread of the virus was indeed a threat to the achievement of the transformation agenda.

He said the continued spread of the virus was also threatening the aspirations for sustainable development.

“This is because there are significant gaps in mobilizing internal resources, providing adequate services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV and putting more HIV positive persons on treatment.

“Perhaps, the most significant of these challenges is the need to provide HIV testing for millions of Nigerians.

“The Federal Government will continue to remain committed to the fight against HIV and AIDS in Nigeria.

“To this effect, HIV and AIDS services shall remain free in all Federal Government hospitals, including testing, treatment and prevention of mother-to-child transmission,’’ Jonathan said.

He said government had taken bold steps to meet the universal access targets and the commitment towards achieving Goal Six of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

The president said he had directed the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) to formulate a strategy to cover the existing gaps in the national HIV and AIDS response.

“This culminated in the President’s Comprehensive Response Plan for HIV, which I formally presented during the Abuja +12 Special Summit and was launched by the Chairman of the African Union.’’

Jonathan said the plan was a demonstration of his passion and the government’s determination to see that tremendous progress was made towards the elimination of HIV and AIDS in the country.

He said the plan would provide HIV testing for 40 million Nigerians and treatment for more than one million positive persons requiring treatment.

Jonathan added that the plan would provide prevention of mother-to-child transmission services for 250,000 positive pregnant women.

“The cost of implementing this plan is huge and will not be borne by the Federal Government alone.’’

Prof. John Idoko, the Director-General of NACA, had earlier at the occasion said the country was making progress in the fight against HIV as the epidemic was being stabilised.

Idoko said that with the support of government and donor partners, HIV commodities had been made available in the last one year.

“This has led to an increase in the number of HIV testing sites, and the number of pregnant women attending ante-natal care services leading to improved maternal and child health.

“There is also progress in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission services,’’ he said.

NAN reports that the country’s theme for the 2013 celebration of the World AIDS Day is “Take charge: Get an HIV test’’.

Speaking on this, Idoko said the goal was to halt and reverse the spread of the virus by 2015 and contribute to the development goals of the transformation agenda and Vision 20:2020.

“To achieve this, we need to provide universal access to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment and care and support programmes,’’ he said.

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