HIV/AIDS: UNICEF, NOA Tasks Media on Public Enlightenment
By ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Friday called on media organisations to focus reports and programmes on issues that helps address HIV/AIDs among Adolescent and Young People (AYPs) in Kaduna State.
Malam Rabiu Musa, Media and External Relation Officer, UNICEF, Kaduna Field Office, made the call in Zaria, Kaduna state, at a One-Day Meeting with journalists.
The meeting was organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) with support from UNICEF on Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission and AYPs support on HIV/AIDS in the state.
Musa said that Kaduna State Government, UNICEF and development partners are doing a lot to address the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS among AYPs in the state.
However, he noted that not much would be achieved without media support in driving discussions around issues that would help address the scourge of HIV and AIDS among AYPs.
“We want media to drive discussions on different platforms on how AYPs would make the right choices in life to avoid contacting the dreaded disease.
“We want AYPs in Kaduna state to know their status, so that those that are positive could be placed on treatment to avoid spreading the disease and those that are negative could remain negative.
“We also want stories and programmes that will help check the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to children,’’ Musa said.
Mrs Tamani Yusuf, one of the resource persons, equally urged journalists to tailor their reports, stories and programmes to help prepare AYPs make positive choices.
Yusuf, who was a former Managing Director, Kaduna State Media Corporation, said: “Right information from the media will help AYPs say no to unsafe sexual practices and other destructive tendencies.
“The key issue is to encourage APYs to abstain from sex till after marriage, and play safe sex if they must.
“Therefore, the media has a role to play in influencing the choices AYPs make through stories and programmes that particularly focus on challenges affecting the age group AYPs.”
She also called on media outfits to project positive images for AYPs to emulate and motivate them to dream big and remain focus on their goals to succeed in life.
On his part, Mr Farouk Chiromari, Child Protection Specialist and Consultant, described adolescent and young person as persons between 10 and 24 years of age.
Chiromari said that the rapid physical growth, development and sexual maturation among this age group make them vulnerable to HIV.
“At this age, the adolescent develop unhealthy habits that grow into a problem that may affect them in the future.
“This is a period when sexual feelings became high, overwhelmed with thought about sex, and attraction to the opposite sex makes them highly vulnerable,’’ he said.
According to him, without proper guidance, teenagers may become sexually active before they are ready, adding that awareness is the only way to prevent early pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections among adolescents.
Dr Idris Baba, HIV and AIDS Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna, said that less than 10 per cent of the population of AYPs in Kaduna state knows their HIV status.
Baba equally said that 18,800 AYPs were currently living with HIV/AIDS in the state, out of which 10,000 were young girls.
According to him, government and relevant stakeholders must redouble interventions if the scourge among this vulnerable group must be address.
Earlier, Malam Lawal Haruna, UNICEF’s focal Person in NOA, explained that objective of the meeting was to update the knowledge of media executives, reporters and producers on HIV/AIDS among AYPs.
He added that the meeting was also organised to review progress of media support in addressing the scourge of HIV/AIDS, leverage on more support and develop plans for implementation in the next three months.