Committed to creating a friendly and supportive environment for millions of Nigerians, a human right advocate, has urged Federal and state governments to expand options through which the populace could prevent themselves from contracting HIV as part of the larger strategy to achieve an HIV-free country.
The human rights advocate, William Rashidi, a 2018 fellow of AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC), made the call based on current global practice, which sees other countries of the world expanding from the traditional methods of HIV protection: condom use, antiretroviral therapy (ART) for persons living with HIV, etc, into the use of new medications classified as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PREP).
Although, PREP, for HIV prevention involving use of antiretroviral medicines (ARVs) reduce the risk of infections in people who are HIV negative, they are currently not available in Nigeria.
To this end, William urged the Federal and state governments to make the needed PREP drugs available in the country, as part of options that interested Nigerians could access to protect themselves from HIV.
William made the call at a two-day media training on Biomedical HIV Prevention Intervention in Nigeria, which held in Lagos recently.
Basing his suggestions on the availability of a large number of Nigerians who need to use PREP to protect themselves against HIV, William reasoned that it had become necessary for the governments to fund PREP so as to assist those who need to use the medication.
On his part, the Project Director of Centre for Right To Health, Mr. Bede Eziefule said the governments could encourage the private sector to key into this opportunity of making PREP medications available in Nigeria. “The private sector can provide PREP, put a cost to it and those who need the medication will pay for it,” Eziefule added.
According to Florita Durueke, Programme Manager of NHVMAS, medications classified as PREPs were needed most by those who are HIV negative, but are of high risk in contracting HIV virus.
Among this group of population are men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender individuals, heterosexual men and women and serodiscordant couples, meaning a couple that one is HIV positive while the partner is HIV negative.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that all persons at risk of HIV should have access to PREP medications and based on this, William, said although, the population listed as most at risk of HIV that need PREP more were minority class, government should address their concerns based on the need to meet their human right as well as helping them to achieve healthy living.
According to a fact sheet issued by AVAC, daily oral PREP was safe and it is without significant side effects. PREP is highly protective in people of all gender when used correctly, it stated.————————-END