Doris Obinna and Henry Uche
The Heartland Alliance Limited by Guarantee (HALG), funded by the U.S. Presidential Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has inaugurated a one- stop-shop (OSS) clinic in Ikorodu, Lagos, to prevent HIV and provide succour for people living with the disease for key population area.
At the inauguration over the weekend, the U.S. PEPFAR Coordinator, Mark Giambrone, said HALG has being providing support in the area of HIV prevention and treatment for over a decade in the State, noting that the inauguration of the facility brought the total number of the HALG OSSs facilities under HALG in the state to five.
According to the coordinator, the Ikorodu OSS being commissioned was established to ensure that key populations (KPs) in Ikorodu and its environs have equitable access to HIV services in support of the laudable efforts of the Lagos government towards addressing the unmet HIV treatment needs of Lagosians. The other four OSSs are located in Agege, Ojo, Badagary and Lagos Island.
“This new one-stop -shop is one of few avenues to provide non-discriminatory and stigma-free services on HIV-related issues, gender-based violence, and human rights issues for key populations,” populations have the highest risk of contracting and transmitting HIV, yet they also have the least access to prevention, care, and treatment services.”
According to him, “Under the KP-CARE 1 project, HALG has provided prevention intervention services to 48,116 KPs, offered 43,961 with HIV Testing Services, identified and initiated 4,794 newly identified HIV positive KPs on treatment. Currently the organization has 8641 KPs cumulatively on treatment in Lagos state alone.
“HALG has continuously enjoyed technically and commodity support from Lagos State Ministry of Health (LSMOH) and Lagos AIDS Control Agency (LSACA) under the leadership of the Commissioner for Health Prof Akin Abayomi and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Monsurat Adeleke. HALG has received large quantity of HIV rapid test kits including oral self-test kits from LSACA.
“In the spirit of inclusive governance by of this administration, HALG program implementation has significantly contributed to the equitable spread and access to quality HIV services across the State, irrespective of age, gender, social and economic status of the citizen.
“HALG is currently implementing KP-CARE 1 project supported by PEPFAR/USAID is generating demand creation and uptake of comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, and care services for the KPs through the HALG OSS clinic model.
“The OSS clinic provides testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), high-yielding community HIV testing strategies, including index clients testing, HIV self-testing, STI management and drug/alcohol treatment centres and the enhanced peer outreach approach (EPOA).”
Giambrone stressed that the LSACA has the mandate to lead the State HIV Response and, the agency strives to stem the spread and mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS in the state.
He noted that the 2014 integrated biological and behavioural surveillance Survey (IBBSS) findings, led by the Federal Ministry of Health, revealed that HIV Key Populations have a high HIV prevalence (high risk men – 22.9 per cent, female sex workers 8.6 per cent and the people who inject drugs – 3.4 per cent). Thus the need to provide HIV/AIDS interventions for these important groups in the population.
He posited that, as part of the efforts of the state to attain the global eradication of new HIV infection by the year 2030 through the UNAIDS 95-95-95 Initiative, (90 per cent of people living with the virus should know their status, 90 per cent of HIV positive individuals should be initiated on antiretroviral (ART) drugs, 90 per cent of individuals on antiretroviral (ART) drugs should achieve viral suppression), the LSACA and the ministry of health have been working closely with various stakeholders to achieve this target.
“Lagos state is committed to the realization of the global prevention coalition targets of reducing new infection by 75 per cent in 2020 and the UNAIDS eradication of new HIV infection by the year 2030.
“In a bid to ensure effective HIV service coverage for the KPs in the Global Funds supported LGAs (Ikorodu, Isolo and Epe), the Agency requested for and granted HALG approval to Scale-up its HIV services for the KPs in LGAs previously managed by the Global Fund.