As countries move closer to epidemic control of the HIV pandemic, real-time monitoring of Recent HIV Infections (defined as an HIV infection acquired within the last 12 months), now makes it possible for public health response to be directed at locations and sub-populations where high levels of transmissions are occurring.

 Such surveillance can help control the HIV epidemic by detecting recent infections, analyzing data in real-time, targeting prevention and case-finding and interrupting further transmission. This is the thinking behind Recency Surveillance Monitoring carried out by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In line with this, a visiting CDC team to the Caritas Nigeria 4GATES Project in Delta State carried out a  Recency Surveillance Monitoring and Supportive Supervision from Monday 27th June 2021 through Saturday the 3rd of July, 2021.

The visit began with an entry meeting at the Caritas Nigeria State Office in Asaba on the first day and visited five partner facilities including Federal Medical Center, Asaba;  Central Hospital Ughelli; Central Hospital Agbor; Rural Youth Peace and Care Foundation  (RYPCAF) Warri; and Equality Triangle Initiative (ETI) Udu.

The exercise amongst other things witnessed on-site round tour, interactions with facility staff members, thorough observation of the processes and procedure of operations being practised with regards to the standard operating system obtainable and attainable in the Recency program.

The hallmark of the visit was the selection of Delta State as a pilot for the Recency Program in Nigeria. The choice of Delta was attributable to the outstanding results recorded so far, the quality service delivery and documentation, team spirit, collaborations with partners and the existing technical capacity in the state.

The goal for recent infection Surveillance in Nigeria is to use a Rapid Test for Recent Infection (RTRI) to provide continuous epidemiologic data on person, place, and time of newly diagnosed individuals, aged 15 and above, to inform HIV prevention and control strategies in the country. RTRI can distinguish recent from long-term HIV infection in adults.

The visit was concluded with an exit meeting at the Caritas Nigeria Warri sub-office.

Article by Adedotoun Adeleke in Asaba, Delta State

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