HIV: Infants’ Survival Rate Now Above 90%

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…As Abbott partners Nigeria to achieve 2030 target

By Kuni Tyessi, Abuja

The survival and life expectancy rate of infants who have tested positive to the HIV/AIDS virus has been increased with over 90 per cent, thereby increasing the chances of Nigeria towards achieving the global 2030 target, which is expected to bring the menace to a considerable halt.

So far, Nigeria has been able to achieve only 24 per cent of the 90:90:90 ratio which stands for knowing of status, treatment and ensuring that treatment works and transmission is reduced.

Global Product Director for HIV and TB, Abbott, Dr. Rachel O’shea who stated this at the just concluded African Science Laboratory Medicine conference in Abuja, said Nigeria’s partnership with Abbott, a global donor, has created a pathway for the M-PIMA point of care technology, which focuses on infants.

She said this new technology, which has been endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), has proven to improve patient care and has the ability to detect the presence of HIV in women, especially children born with the virus.

She lamented that Nigeria was one of the countries that still has a long way to go in reaching the standard, adding that only 24 per cent of babies have the chance to be tested to know their status.

While reiterating that Abbott was for testing and not for treatment, O’shea said it was one of the largest testing organisations well known for HIV test, which will be expanded in the country based on the regulatory policies of the government.

She said: “M-PIMA focuses on newborn babies. It speaks to the diagnosis of infants with HIV. If they have been found to test positive, they can start receiving ante retroviral drugs.

“Without M-PIMA, they will die before their second birthday. Babies only have the chance to be tested to know if they are positive or not in Nigeria.

“Nigeria is one of the countries that still have a long way to go to reach the standard 24 per cent. In other countries, it is up to 78 per cent and we are trying to close that gap.

“The objective is to achieve a 90:90:90 ratio. 90 per cent of people with HIV should know their status. 90 per cent of people who know their status should be placed on treatment. While the last 90 per cent is to ensure that the treatment works and transmission is reduced.

“The third 90 per cent is just 24 per cent in Nigeria and other countries have achieved that and even more; for example, Botswana.

“M-PIMA is able to pull out the virus if it is already in the child because the antibodies are already there.”