Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, yesterday stopped persons living with HIV/AIDS in the state from paying for their medication in state-owned health facilities, saying the cost of such services would henceforth be borne by the state.
The governor spoke when a delegation from the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDCP) under the auspices of the Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria, visited him at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
Wike said: “We will stop all fees collected as user-fees for persons under the HIV/AIDS Treatment Programme. This is our contribution to the partnership with the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We will take over the payment of the HIV/AIDS user-fees for public health facilities in the state.
“The deputy governor will be in charge of the programme since she is a medical doctor. We are committed to working with the United States Government to ensure we tackle this menace.”
The governor said his administration would support the efforts of the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria, in the programme against HIV/AIDS.
He said: “The Rivers State government will take all necessary measures to assist the centre in this current push across the state.
“All the necessary support will be extended to the agency as they work in different locations of Rivers State.”
Earlier, leader of the delegation, Dr. Tedd Ellerbrock, said 210, 000 persons were currently infected with HIV/AIDS in Rivers State with 40, 000 currently on anti-retroviral treatment.
He said the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention was launching a new programme where 110,000 infected persons would be placed on anti-retroviral treatment to stem the spread of the disease and control the epidemic.
He appealed to the Rivers State government to take over the payment of user-fees for persons living with HIV/AIDS who want to anti-retroviral treatment.
“The United States Government is funding the Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria in this effort. The US Government will be deeply involved in all the 23 local government areas of the state.
“We will deeply appreciate if you will help us with the user-fees. We have found that if there are user-fees, people are discouraged from coming forward to seek treatment. We are providing the anti-retroviral drugs and the US Government is paying for the programme,” he said.