Minister Commissions HIV/AIDS Reference Laboratory

Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- Nigeria's fight against HIV/AIDS has received a boost with the commissioning on Saturday of the country's first national HIV/AIDS reference laboratory by Health Minister Alphonsus Nwosu in Lagos this weekend.
Nwosu said that establishment of the laboratory, at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in Lagos, was an "epoch-making event".
He commended the Ford Foundation for donating the 60-million-naira facility and promised that it would be put to a good use.
Describing HIV/AIDS, which has afflicted an estimated 2.
6 million Nigerians, as "a major problem in the backyard of everybody in Nigeria", Nwosu said: "Each of us must take individual action to ensure that we spread the news that AIDS is real.
" He said any epidemic driven by sex urge "is a dangerous epidemic because it is done behind closed doors".
"Such an epidemic is likely to linger in any community it enters.
The only option is to prevent it," Nwosu said.
NIMR Director-General, Oni Idigbe, said the laboratory had the capacity to monitor and evaluate responses to treatment with anti-retroviral drugs or other orthodox remedies.
The laboratory also has the capability for screening for antibodies, confirmation of sero-status and automated estimation of cell levels, among others.
Idigbe said clinical trials for new orthodox or herbal remedies for HIV/AIDS could be carried out at the laboratory.
"It is remarkable that at last the country has a centre with the capacity for viral load estimation.
"The need for sending clinical samples from Nigerian patients to laboratories abroad for tests will no longer arise," he said.
Meanhwile, the Programme Director (West Africa) for Ford Foundation, Tunde Ahonsi, said the laboratory was set up to serve as an impartial quasi-official arbitrator to verify cure claims as well as provide resources for health care providers involved in clinical management of HIV/AIDS.
"It will serve as a data generating source that would help policy makers in mapping out strategies aimed at prevention, management and control of the epidemic," he said.

21 july 2001 17:54:00

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