The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) revealed that Nigeria has the second highest burden of adolescents living with HIV as 240,000 adolescents in the country representing 10 percent globally are living with the disease.
The Director-General, NACA Dr Sani Aliyu who made this known Wednesday, at a programme tagged “All-In” – working with adolescents and young people to achieve 90:90:90 in Nigeria said, with this burden, Nigeria is not preventing new infections, enrolling and retaining young people in treatment fast enough, adding that with their strong drive, idealism and fresh ideas, young people can introduce new solutions to the challenges.
“In view of this, the Nigerian National HIV response led by NACA, with support from UNICEF in partnership with Population Council, has embarked on an adolescent participation initiative that will help to define a framework for engaging adolescents in the AIDS response specifically.”
“The work stream on engaging adolescents recognises that adolescents and youths are critical in efforts to end the AIDS epidemic. By working together with them in AIDS response and across sectors can create a successful pathway to adulthood for young people.”
The DG NACA, further urged the private sector to engage in and invest in Adolescents and Young Persons (AYPs), in HIV response, adding that “investing on this segment of the population shall translate into a democratic dividend.”
Also speaking at the programme, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Muhammed Fall said, they are ready to partner with the Nigeria government and NACA in the fight against HIV among young people by engaging them the adolescents.
“We have to engage and explore the energy and enthusiasm in them in the advocacy to fight the diseases . We also call on private sector and individual to embrace this opportunity and stand ready to show that we can all fight HIV/AIDS not only in Nigeria but also in Africa by showing the world that it is possible.”
The president, Association of Positive Youth Living with HIV/AID (APYIN) Isah Muhammed said, so much is missed out when talking about HIV to young people adding that they need encouragement, access to treatment, talk about their status and discuss openly about their sexual partners.
“In accessing treatment, the adolescents and young people are not too young but they are most times denied all in the name of parental consent. We shouldn’t deny any young person access to treatment because of any reason but we should try as much as possible to make the right decision and in the right way.”