The country has begun a pilot study of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and TasP (Treatment as Prevention). The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) is spearheading the study. Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a procedure for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of contracting the virus to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. The country decided to test run this because globally PrEP and TasP have been proven to have immense positive effects on the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
According to the Director General of NACA, Prof John Idoko, Multiple Studies have established that anti-retroviral drugs could be used to reduce the rate of infection in a population in these two different ways. He clarified that the ongoing study is not being done to determine whether PrEP works or not as it has long been established that PrEP actually works when used in combination with other methods of HIV prevention.
Deputy Director at the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Dr Oliver Ezechi who is the lead consultant on the study, said three sites (cities) have been selected for the study. They are Nnewi in Anambra State, Calabar in Cross River State and Jos in Plateau State. Teams for the study that will work at various sites have been put prepared.
The people being worked with are Sero-discordant couples. These are couples in which one partner is HIV positive while the other partner is HIV negative.
The Chief Communications Officer (NACA), Mrs Toyin Aderibigbe, said the project will have three primary goals: Construct a model that effectively delivers PrEP to serodiscordant couples. Within the context of this goal, the measure of effectiveness will be the number of new infections averted. Measure the cost effectiveness of the model. The measure of cost effectiveness will be cost per life-year gained and cost per infection averted.
Estimate what would be needed to scale up the delivery model to the national level. She said NACA understands that, given the data and experience to be gained from the project, it should be possible to present this to stakeholders for consideration as part of the policy and guidelines for the comprehensive combination prevention program in the country.
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (formerly National Action Committee on AIDS) was established in February 2000 to coordinate the various activities of HIV/AIDS in the Nigeria. It serves to ensure that entities and groups responsible for implementation of the National Strategic Framework (NSF) objectives and activities receive the financial, organizational and human resources support required to undertake and complete assigned activities in a multi-sectoral environment; NACA also serves to ensure that all partners in the war against HIV/AIDS see the NSF as a frame-work for national and nation-wide coordination of one response.