AMAC HIV Action Committee commends NGO for Improving HIV Testing Services

ABUJA, Nigeria: The Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) Action Committee on AIDS has commended the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) for improving HIV testing services in the Council through its Partner Notification Services Approach.

The Coordinator of AMAC Action Committee on HIV&AIDS, Mrs. Lilian Gonji, who gave this commendation today at a training of over 80 health care providers from hospitals and community-based organizations, said that the approach of testing sexual and social partners of HIV positive individuals has led to increased identification of people living with HIV.

Mrs. Gongi added that the training, which is a collaborative effort between IHVN and AMAC, will equip participants with skills to implement the approach. “This training is a laudable effort. It will build participant’s counseling skills. For the AMAC office, it is building our capacity to pass on the knowledge to hospital staff. Increased testing for HIV across facilities gives us the right to approach the budget office for support towards sustainability of the program,” she said.

IHVN Senior Technical Officer, Mrs. Comfort Ochigbo noted that identifying sexual partners of people living with HIV and testing them has led to findings that in AMAC, there is a 51% transmission rate of HIV within the social and sexual network of People Living with HIV, injection drug users and other key population.  “The community testing done in the past resulted in findings of only about 0.2% to 0.3% transmission rate. Participants are being trained to educate their patients on the need to disclose their HIV status to their partners and encourage them to get tested for HIV. Those that test positive are immediately placed on treatment,” she said.

The three day training covered areas like, strategies for effective counseling, gender-based violence, stigma, and disclosure of HIV status.  Participants also consisted of ad-hoc staff stationed in facilities within AMAC, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Agency for the Control of AIDS & STI Program, FCT Agency for the Control of AIDS (FACA) and AMAC staff. A participant at the training, Bunmi Oke said, “with the knowledge I have acquired, I can comfortably step-down and organize HIV services training especially in the area of quality assurance,” he said.

IHVN is a non-governmental organization leading efforts to achieve epidemic control of HIV in AMAC and Bwari Area Councils in FCT, Karu, Nasarawa, Doma and Lafia Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nasarawa State and Ushongo and Konshisha LGAs in Benue State.  The Institute is also building the capacity of health care workers in these LGAs and in its supported health facilities across the country to implement the partner notification services approach.