By Abubakar Hassan

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Officials of National AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) in a group photograph with the Emir of Minna, HRH, Dr. Umar Faruq Bahago, during a visit to the Emir, recently.

About 88,000 households which were randomly selected are expected to be tested for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis under the Nigeria Aids Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) initiative.

The Director General of National Action Committee on Aids (NACA), Dr. Sani Aliyu stated this when he led a delegation of NAIIS officials to an advocacy to Minna.

The NACA Boss who was represented by the Director Community Prevention, care and support services of NACA, Mr. Alex Ogundipe said they were in Minna to sensitize the public on the project which will soon commence.

He said the essence of the project was to know where HIV and Hepatitis are and at what rate, so that government can plan effectively for their eradication, saying NAIIS was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari because he was passionate about eradicating HIV and Hepatitis.

The Director explained that government was spending a lot of money to purchase HIV drugs but people living with the virus were not coming to access the drugs which were given free, and as a result of this NAIIS was initiated to visit households and test members of the households, as well as link those tested positive to how they can access drugs.

He explained further that people were afraid to go out and get tested and those living with the virus were afraid to go and access the drugs for fear of stigmatization, but that since the NAIIS project is a home-based thing it gives the participants the confidence to feel free, adding that all the information obtained will be treated with outmost confidentiality.    

He added that the population survey adopted was the biggest sample size globally which followed scientific methodology and that it will give us the best guess estimate.

“Before now what we use to test across the country to come up with prevalence rate is less than 4,000. For us to go to 88,000 households you must know that that is big enough sample size to represent Nigeria,” said the Director.

He disclosed that in Niger State, 88 clusters comprising about 28 households with an average of about 5-10 persons in each of the households was captured for the project.

Mr. Alex said this was the first time they were using this method, but that the method adopted in the past showed that the prevalence rate in Niger state was about 1.2 percent, and that by the time the project was concluded it will give the accurate prevalence rate in the state and the country as a whole.

He said at the end of the project we will be sure of how prevalence is HIV and Hepatitis, which communities are these infections so that they will be targeted and government will spend less on curtailing them. 

Mr. Alex said the project belong to the public because it is about the general public and this was why they decided to engage all relevant stakeholders such as the traditional leaders, religious leaders, community leaders, technical leaders among others, appreciating the traditional leaders in Niger state particularly the Etsu Nupe and Chairman of Niger state council of traditional rulers for their warm reception and support.

Also, the Director General of Niger State Action Committee on Aids (NSACA), Alhaji  Adamu Baba urged Nigerlites to embrace the project, saying it is a win-win project because it will be beneficial to all, the government, the society and the individuals involved.

He said the state government under the leadership of Alh. Abubakar Sani Bello was very supportive to the issue as it had provided fund for the purchase of test kits, adding that the prevalence rate in the state was about 1.2 and that they were working hard to see that it drop to one percent by the year 2020.

The delegation had visited the state ministries of health, information and strategies, local government, community development and chieftaincy affairs, media houses in the state as well as the Emir of Minna.   

TAURARUWA