(Participants at the launching of Kaduna govt/UNICEF HIV/AIDS intervention plan for adolescent and young persons held at Asa Pyramid Hotel, Kaduna, Northwest Nigeria on Thursday)
In their efforts to reduce the spread of HIV virus among Adolescent and Young People (AYP) in Kaduna State, the State Government in partnership with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on Thursday, launched the state’s AYP-HIV intervention plan.
Though the HIV prevalence rate among adult has drastically reduced in the state due to massive awareness campaign by all the critical stakeholders, the phenomenon seems increasing among the adolescent and young people due to various challenges like inadequate access to preventive method like condoms hence the need for the action plan to address the scourge among these age groups.
In an interview with HIV/AIDs Specialist, UNICEF Field office Kaduna, Dr Idris Baba, he explained that the plan was developed for 7 pilot local government areas of the state which include Chikun, Lere, Kagarko, Birnin Gwari, Jema’a and Jaba.
According to this specialist, the effort was to increase comprehensive HIV service delivery for AYPs living with HIV, increase condom use, HIV prevention, reproductive and and sexual health education in order to prevent possible new cases quickly added that, the target, who are between the ages of 15 and 24 constitutes 33 percent of the population of the state.
He further explained that, the plan will among other things reach out to the about 18, 000 of AYPs living with HIV in the state and place them on treatment.
He said, “UNICEF applauds the state government for making deliberate effort to change HIV and AIDs indices in the state, particularly among the adolescent and young people.
“But we we equally soliciting the support of all relevant stakeholders, as well as the media to joint us in this fight to ensure the survival of our youths”.
In a remark, Executive Secretary, Kaduna State AIDs Control Agency (KADSACA), Dr Mark Anthony noted that, the intervention became necessary to curb HIV prevalence among AYPs in the state, “this is because it has been observed that access to and uptake of HIV counselling and testing services by adolescent is significantly lower compared to adult”.
According to him, while there was 30 per cent decrease in AIDs related morality among adult, there was an increase of deaths by 50 per cent among AYPs between 2005 and 2012 alone.
“The increase in adolescent HIV related cases is primarily due to poor prioritisation of adolescent in national HIV plans. “There was also inadequate provision of assessible and acceptable HIV counselling and testing and treatment services.
“There was equally lack of support for all adolescent to remain in care and adhere to anti-retroviral therapy”, he said.
On his part, the state’s Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr. Paul Dogo said that, the launching of the work plan was timely considering the high prevalence of HIV scourge among adolescent and young people in the state saying, the youths, who are the backbone of the society need to be targeted with peculiar youth friendly HIV services if the future generation is to be guaranteed.
“Through the UNICEF-supported AYP HIV programme in the two LGAs, tens of thousands of new infections among youths were controlled as many of them now knows their HIV status and adopted appropriate preventive behavior.
“This had impacted significantly in their behaviour, including sexual and reproductive health. The programme has also enabled HIV positive AYPs to access treatment so as to continue to live positively and contribute their quota to economic development of the state”, added the commissioner.