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USAID and the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Health Hold Dissemination Event for the First-Ever AIDS Indicator Survey in Akwa Ibom State

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November 27, 2017: The findings of the first-ever Akwa Ibom AIDS Indicator Survey (AKAIS) were unveiled today in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, during a dissemination meeting of HIV/AIDS stakeholders, hosted by the Akwa Ibom Ministry of Health. The study, which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was a collaborative effort between the State Government and USAID flagship HIV/AIDS and TB project – Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services (SIDHAS), which is implemented by FHI 360.

The dissemination event was attended by His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, as the Special Guest of Honor represented by the Secretary to the Government, Sir Etekamba Umoren; the Honorable Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong; other members of the State Executive Council and Permanent Secretaries. Also in attendance were Deputy Office Director, Office of HIV/AIDS & TB, USAID, Kelly Badiane; Senior Strategic Information Advisor USAID,  Annie Chen-Carrington; Country Director of FHI 360, Dr. Robert Chiegil; Chief of Party of the SIDHAS project, Satish Raj Pandey; representatives of the NACA Director General, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Joint United Nations Program on HIV&AIDS (UNAIDS), Akwa Ibom Network of People Living with HIV&AIDS (AKNET); other development partners, civil society organizations, religious and traditional leaders, and key HIV/AIDS stakeholders within and outside the state.

His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, as the Special Guest of Honor, while appreciating the support of the U.S. Government to the state in addressing the epidemic of HIV/AIDS, said the survey will enable his government to better address the epidemic. He emphasized the concern of the state about the scourge of HIV/AIDS and expressed commitment to working to reduce the HIV burden in Akwa Ibom State. He also enjoined all citizens of Akwa Ibom to arise to the consciousness that good health is a major driver of development and that HIV/AIDS is a reality that requires collective responsibility of the entire populace.

Speaking earlier in his welcome remarks, the Honorable Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, welcomed all present and expressed the commitment of the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Health in partnering with reputable organizations for the provision of quality research and health services for the people of the state. He acknowledged the funding from USAID through the SIDHAS project in the implementation of AKAIS and reiterated that the survey presents an opportunity for the state to more accurately estimate the current HIV/AIDS prevalence and incidence and better guide the HIV/AIDS response. He further urged all stakeholders to use the findings of the survey for planning future programs for HIV control in Akwa Ibom state.

In his speech, FHI 360 Country Director, Dr Robert Chiegil, expressed how much FHI 360 has enjoyed the support and collaboration of the government and people of Akwa Ibom State and the organization’s excitement in supporting the conduct of this very important survey; the first of its kind in Akwa Ibom. He stated that the survey has brought a lot of benefits to the state including the economic benefits to the over 1,500 persons involved in the survey, and the current availability of key survey resource persons was due to the capacity building that was a part of the process.

The representative of the Federal Ministry of Health stated that Akwa Ibom is one of the 8 states prioritized by President’s Emergency Response Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) for accelerated HIV response and noted that AKAIS is therefore well-timed to provide information that will guide program implementation in the state. She also noted that Akwa Ibom state is a pacesetter state, being one of the first states to conduct the AIDS Indicator Survey in Nigeria and the first to have its findings disseminated. The Federal Ministry of Health congratulates the Akwa Ibom State Government and the USAID-funded SIDHAS project for a successful conduct of the AKAIS.

In her remarks, the representative of the USAID Mission Director, Deputy Office Director, Office of HIV/AIDS & TB, USAID, Kelly Badiane, said the U.S. Government support to the HIV/AIDS response in the state is in line with the new U.S. President’s Emergency Response Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) paradigm of “doing the Right Things, in the Right Places at the Right Time.”

The representative of Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Gregory Ashefor in his address, said the agency congratulates the government and people of Akwa Ibom State for being the first state to disseminate results of the AIDS Indicator Survey in Nigeria, and appreciates the role USAID, SIDHAS, the State Government and other collaborating partners have played in carrying out the survey. He stated that on assumption of duty, his first priority has been to ensure that the true prevalence and incidence of HIV in all the states of the country is known. He also stated that the Government of Nigeria in collaboration with the US Government and Global Fund, is carrying out a country wide National Population-based HIV Indicator and Impact Assessment similar to AKAIS. Therefore, lessons learnt and experiences gained in Akwa Ibom State survey will guide the approach towards implementing the planned national survey. He expressed his belief that this dissemination would enable the state government and state actors to understand the current status of the HIV epidemic and the need to conscientiously work with the federal government to bring an end to the epidemic.

The representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Micheal Jose, congratulated the State for carrying out the survey which was a timely intervention to strengthen the HIV intervention in the state. He also stated that as a pace setter state, the upcoming National AIS will benefit from the AKAIS experience. He also pledged that WHO would continue to provide needed technical support to the state

The State Coordinator for the Network of People living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria, NEPWHAN Mr. Iniobong Enyenihi thanked USAID, FHI 360 and the survey team for a successful survey. He stated that people living with HIV in the state have been given a new lease of life due to activities of USAID and other IPs. He appealed to the Government of Nigeria and the state government to continue to take the leadership role in the fight to eradicate HIV.

Other dignitaries at the event, similarly expressed their support towards the fight against HIV/AIDS in Akwa Ibom.

Major highlights at the event were presentations on the survey’s key findings.

The Akwa Ibom AIDS Indicator Survey (AKAIS), a population based cross-sectional survey, was carried out across the 31 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state. Field work of the study took place between April and June 2017. A total of 4,313 households were sampled while 7,791 children and 9,145 adults totaling 16,936 people, were tested for HIV.  The study found that the HIV prevalence among children 0 to 14 years was 0.4% while the prevalence among persons 15 years and older was 4.8%. The overall prevalence rate of HIV in Akwa Ibom State was found to be 2.8% against the previously circulated figure of 10.8% obtained from a sentinel study.

The study further revealed a 0.41% annual incidence of HIV among adults ages 15 years and older. The number of new infections was closely similar in females as in males (0.41% among females and 0.42% among males). However, the HIV incidence in ages 15- 19 years was higher than the rest of the age groups; translating to nearly half of the new HIV infections occurring in the adult population.

After an exhaustive review and discussions on the key findings by the technical team and dignitaries present, Dr. Patrick Essiet, the Coordinator, State AIDS/STI Control Program, presented a summary of the keys findings and recommendations from the study.

Consensus from stakeholders at the event included the need to mobilize support from all stakeholders to ensure the fight against HIV/AIDS gets the required attention to achieve epidemic control.

For additional information on AKAIS please contact: Dr Patrick Essiet, Coordinator, State AIDS/STI Control Program, Akwa Ibom state. Email: patesiet@gmail.com, 08037725988 and Dr. Chinedu Agbakwuru, Associate Director, Continuous quality Improvement and Public Health Evaluation, Monitoring and Evaluation Dept., SIDHAS, FHI 360 Nigeria. Email: cagbakwuru@fhi360.org, 08057269880.

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