THE National Agency for the Control of AIDS says plans are under way to prevent new HIV infections, especially
in discordant couples.
This is according to the director-general of the agency, Prof John Idoko, who said this at a meeting of the post International AIDS Society (IAS) on Wednesday in Abuja.
According to Idoko, research has shown that HIV drugs known as ``Tenofovir (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis)” can block HIV infection.
``We have issues about how to finally put an end to HIV; we are looking for cure, that cure is a preventive vaccine and we are miles away from it but we are now seeing that science and technology is driving us to do new thing.
``So what essentially it is, is that you can give somebody who is HIV negative, you can give him the same drugs that we give to people who are on treatment.
``And if he has sexual encounter with somebody who is positive, it is potent enough to protect him from getting infection so that is what pre-exposure prophylaxis is about.”
Idoko said the country needed to ensure that new HIV infections were prevented as it would not be able to sustain the number of people on treatment.
According to him, the emphasis on discordant couples is because the country has a large number of such couples.
He added that research had not shown any resistance to the drugs.
Idoko said that `Tenofovir gel' could be used by women for the prevention of HIV infection, adding that the gel does not contain chemicals that could kill the sperm.
The director-general said that the country had inaugurated a feasibility study to source its own data so that it would be able to determine how the drugs worked.
``Study is going on to see the use of PrEP that will help reduce HIV infection; we started with the map of discordant couples and will commence the use next year.
``The country is moving from data to policy to implementation.”
Idoko called for better behavioural change from Nigerians to enable the government to fight HIV and AIDS in the country.
In his remark, Mr Micheal Odwyer, the Lead Health Specialist, World Bank, observed that one of Nigeria's major problems was project implementation.
Odwyer noted that the country had a lot of policies that had been difficult to implement and advised the government to involve female sex workers and homosexuals in its feasibility study.
He also urged the Federal Government to focus more on what it could do better, rather than initiating new ones.
Also speaking, Dr. David Okello, the WHO Representative, observed that most times the country did not replicate the lessons learnt at important conferences.
Okello advised that the meeting should domesticate the ideas shared at the conference.