On behalf of the U.S. government, Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard on Thursday accepted a donation of HIV rapid test kits from Belemaoil, a leading Nigerian oil and gas firm, to support activities by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to eradicate HIV and AIDS in Akwa Ibom State.
The handover took place in a ceremony between Ambassador Leonard, who is leading the U.S. delegation on a tour of the U.S. government activities in Akwa Ibom, President and Founder of Belemaoil Nigeria Ltd. Tein Jack-Rich.
the Secretary to the State Government Dr. Emmanuel E. Ekuwem, USAID Nigeria Mission Director, Dr. Anne Patterson, and the State Commissioner of Health Prof. Augustine Vincent Umoh.
The donation brings together the U.S. strategy under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) implemented by USAID, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Department of Defence and the oil giant Belemaoil through its corporate social responsibility programme to deepen private sector involvement in Nigeria’s health sector to strengthen healthcare and achieve HIV epidemic control in Akwa Ibom.
“We celebrate the incredible strides made in Akwa Ibom over the last two years to control HIV,” Ambassador Leonard said at the ceremony. “We are committed to continuing this partnership to help ensure that residents of Akwa Ibom who need these services can access them without barriers. We also encourage other private sector partners to support the national HIV response.”
The test kits, with a testing capacity of 74,600, will support prevention of mother-to-child transmission services within antenatal clinics and provide critical HIV testing services to numerous young children and others who are at risk.
Even with the challenges of the COVID pandemic, Akwa Ibom, with USAID’s support, has made remarkable progress in its efforts to eradicate the epidemic. The number of people receiving lifesaving HIV treatment in the State has increased from 19 percent to 82 percent, with 35,000 people in 2019 to over 156,000 in 2021.
Belemaoil President Jack-Rich added: “This contribution is part of our commitment to consistent engagement through reputable partners like USAID to support states and communities in the Niger Delta, and indeed all across Nigeria.”
An estimated 1.9 million Nigerians are living with HIV/AIDS, according to the U.S.-supported Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) of 2018. The United States, through PEPFAR, supports 80 percent of all HIV/AIDS treatment services provided in Nigeria.
Through PEPFAR, USAID supports 16 states, including Akwa Ibom, to deliver client-centered HIV treatment services to over 500,000 individuals and delivers HIV test kits, medicines, and laboratory reagents to provide life-saving HIV treatment to over 1.4 million Nigerians throughout the country. USAID also provides comprehensive services to over 500,000 vulnerable children and their caregivers impacted by HIV.