FHI 360 Stands with the Government of Nigeria at the Cutting Edge of HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care
In a demonstration of commitment to universal access and to remain at the forefront of quality HIV/AIDS service provision, the Government of Nigeria (GoN) recently updated its guidelines for HIV prevention, treatment and care in line with the latest World Health Organization (WHO) standards. FHI 360 through United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded project, Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services (SIDHAS), contributed to the development of these new guidelines as well as led technical sessions and made presentations in the recently organized dissemination event by the GoN.
The central dissemination of the “2016 National Guidelines for HIV Prevention Treatment and Care,” was organised by the Federal Ministry of Health through the National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCP) and took place at Royalton Hotel, Abuja from March 2nd – 3rd, 2017. In attendance were key stakeholders namely, the Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, as well as international donor agencies, implementing partner organizations and people living with HIV/AIDS. While the national guidelines were initially launched during the World AIDS day celebration in December 2016[i], this event marked the formal dissemination of the document for official use by providers of HIV prevention, treatment and care services.
The new guidelines bring the country up-to-date with 2016 WHO “consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection.”[ii] Key features of the guidelines include the adoption of “Option B+” which places all HIV+ people including pregnant women (Option B+) on antiretroviral therapy (ART) for life, regardless of the disease’s clinical stage and “Test and Start”. This change represents the global standard of care for HIV positive persons as evidence shows that early initiation of ART leads to better overall health outcomes. The guidelines also emphasize the paradigm shift to the use of viral load testing as the standard diagnostic test for HIV management. Previously, CD4 testing was used for HIV management as well as to determine ART initiation but research shows that viral load tests give a more precise indication of ART efficacy.
At the dissemination event, FHI 360 Director Prevention, Care and Treatment (SIDHAS), Dr. Edward Oladele made a presentation on “Task shifting, linkages, retention in care” during a technical session on “Recommendations for Improved Service Delivery”. The presentation highlighted strategies and models of service delivery, implemented by the SIDHAS project, with significant potential for improving the efficient use of resources for HIV service delivery. Deputy Project Director of SIDHAS consortium partner Howard University, Pharm. Seun Asieba also chaired a technical session on “Opportunistic Infections and Comorbidities.” Aside from the dissemination event, FHI 360 participated in several guideline review meetings that informed the finalized document and contributed to the development of the facilitator’s guide and participant’s manual that will be used to rollout the guidelines amongst health workers.
During his address at the event, Dr. Ehanire appreciated donors like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which funds the SIDHAS project though USAID, for their support in the fight against AIDS and reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring universal access to HIV/AIDS services.[iii]
The SIDHAS project is aimed at sustaining the cross-sectional integration of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) services by building the Government of Nigeria’s capacity to deliver sustainable high quality, comprehensive treatment, care and related services.
[ii] World Health Organization. (2016). Consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection: recommendations for a public health approach. Consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection: recommendations for a public health approach., (Ed. 2). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/arv/arv-2016/en/