Prevention is one of the programmatic areas in the National Health Sector response to HIV/AIDS. This Component is headed by Dr Adesigbin Clement. It has the following units:
- HIV Testing Services (HTS)
- Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission
- Viral Hepatitis Control
- Sexually Transmitted Infections Control
- Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis
In line with the mandate of the HIV/AIDS Division, these different thematic areas are part of the national intervention program in the areas of coordination, capacity building and training. The component participates in the development and review of National Policy Documents, training manuals, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and job aids.
HIV testing services (HTS) Unit coordinates the HIV testing services activities at National, State and Local government levels through collaboration with partners.
In alignment with the vision and mandate of the division, the unit is to make HIV Testing Services accessible, available and affordable to all Nigerians.
In order to achieve this, the unit has been working to:
- Expand HTS access to the 774 LGAs in the country
- Prevent new infections, reduce spread and impact of the disease in the communities
- Ensure achievement of the first 95 UNAIDS global target through innovative strategies
- Ensure standardization of HTS provision in the country
PREVENTION OF MOTHER TO CHILD TRANSMISSION
Prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV refers to interventions aimed at preventing the transmission of HIV from an infected mother to her child during pregnancy, labour, delivery and breastfeeding. Mother to Child transmission is the most common route for transmission of pediatric HIV and is dependent on high maternal viral load, infection of placenta, antepartum hemorrhage, prolonged labour, invasive delivery procedures, prolonged rupture of membrane, pre-term birth and breastfeeding.
The advancement of PMTCT programme in Nigeria is key to eliminating new HIV infections among children. Thus, the Government of Nigeria has adopted a comprehensive approach for the implementation of PMTCT. This includes:
- Primary prevention of HIV infection among women of child-bearing age.
- Preventing unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV.
- Preventing vertical transmission of HIV from infected mother to her infant.
- Providing care, treatment and support for mothers with HIV and their children.
VIRAL HEPATITIS UNIT
Viral hepatitis was a neglected public health disease until recently. Nigeria is one of the countries contributing a significant figure to the global burden of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). About 20 million Nigerians are living chronically with HBV and HCV.
This unit was established in 2015 in response to this scourge. The mandate of the unit is to coordinate the prevention and control of viral hepatitis in the country. This task is guided by the principles of accessibility, affordability, equity and availability. In order to deliver on this mandate, the unit collaborates with relevant government agencies, development partners, civil society organizations and private bodies. The country has not lacked policy directions in this response as necessary policy documents are in place. Recently, the response has enjoined some positive support from subnational levels in the area of domestic funding.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) remains a very important public health challenge, and with the emergence of HIV and AIDS pandemic, it has become imperative for a more coordinated approach to reduce its burden.
A syndromic approach to management of STIs makes treatment accessible and affordable to a majority of the population. The goal of STIs syndromic management is not only to cure the patient but also to break the chain of transmission, avoid complications, patient education, partner treatment, provision of condoms, diagnosis and prescription.
Objectives of STIs management includes:
- To make a correct diagnosis based on appropriate clinical assessment
- To provide proper antimicrobial therapy, obtain cure, decrease infectivity and avoid complications.
- To reduce and prevent future high risk behavior
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is the pre-emptive use of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to reduce the probability of HIV negative individuals acquiring HIV infection, especially in persons who are deemed at substantial risk of acquiring HIV. This biomedical intervention is critical for the epidemic control of HIV. This intervention area is to coordinate the national rollout of oral PrEP, as well as give strategic oversight towards strengthening the quality of service delivery at both health facilities and community service points where PrEP is provided.