Ending AIDS by 2030 beyond World AIDS Day 2015: Young People and HIV in Nigeria

Nigeria has a large population of over 173 million people. Of these, 28% are adolescents (aged 10-19 years) and young people (aged 20-24 years). In Nigeria the national prevalence of HIV is 3.4%.[1] Among adolescents aged 15–19, the HIV prevalence is estimated to be 2.9% and 3.2% among young people aged 20–24. Comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS among youth is very low- less than 35%. Of these, adolescents aged 15-19yrs had the lowest comprehensive knowledge.1

Young women aged 20–24 are more affected by HIV than men of the same age group (3.7% compared to 2.4%). It is estimated that there are 160,000 adolescents aged 10–19 years living with HIV with 90,000 being females and 73,000 males.[2] The number of AIDS-related deaths among adolescents in 2013 was 11,000 and the number of new HIV infections among them was 17,000 in the same year.

Several national documents recognise the problem of HIV among the AYP although none of them provide a comprehensive strategy to address HIV among young people or sufficient guidance for HIV programmers and service providers to design and implement evidence-based AYP-focused interventions. Also, AYP have not been adequately involved in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the programmes and interventions targeting or affecting them.

Over the past four years, the national response has been gathering evidence to inform the development of a national strategy. A key study that has been conducted is “An analysis of the HIV epidemiology and response amongst AYP” with support from UNICEF. Thus, the National HIV Strategy for Adolescent and Young People (2016-2020), the first of its kind in Nigeria’s history of HIV programming was developed. The Strategy specifically targets all adolescents (10-19 years) and young people (20-24 years). These include in-school youth, out-of-school youth and AYP at higher risk. This Strategy also covers AYP living with HIV and AYP with disabilities.

The goal of the Strategy is to reduce new HIV infections among adolescents and young people in Nigeria. The Strategy promotes a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach and advocates for engagement and involvement of AYP and their gatekeepers in the HIV and AIDS response. The Strategy will guide the implementation of HIV interventions for AYP. It also lays the foundation for subsequent development of other action plans and HIV-related policies targeted at adolescents and young people

This year, the World AIDS Day 2015 theme is “Getting to zero: ending AIDS by 2030”. NACA is also using this opportunity to bring to the fore the need for a greater focus on young people and HIV in Nigeria. In view of this, a number of activities are planned: a public lecture on children, adolescents and HIV and an interactive session for AYP.

The purpose of the AYP interactive session is to create a forum for AYP including young people living with HIV to discuss issues relating to HIV and service needs, challenges etc. The output of the meeting will be used to advocate to policy makers and service providers to further address young people’s needs.

 

References:

[1] Federal Ministry of Health (2013): National HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Health Survey (NARHS, 2012)

[2] Joint United Nations programmed on HIV/AIDS (2013) HIV and AIDS estimates, Released July 2014

Ibrahim Olalekan is a media writer and specialist. His enormous task as journalist has earned him media space in some leading online newspapers. Aside being a seasoned journalist, Olalekan has keen interest in advocacy, rural development and politics. Olalekan is a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Lagos, and can be reach via: ibrahimolalekan001@yahoo.com or +2348101988313 and @lekanpaul