HIV/AIDS: KDSG, UNICEF launches Intervention Programme for Adolescents, Youths
By Alex Uangbaoje, Kaduna
The Kaduna State Government with support from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on Thursday, launched an intervention programme to curb the prevalence of HIV scourge among Adolescent and Young People (AYP), in the State, after the initial pilot that started in October 2014 and ended March 2016 in Jama’a and Jaba Local Government Areas.
The programme, “AYP HIV Intervention Workplans”, Dr Idris Baba, HIV/AIDs Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, explained, was developed for seven local government areas of Chikun, Lere, Kagarko, Birnin Gwari, Jema’a and Jaba.
Baba added that 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.
He said that the AYPs, who are between the ages of 15 to 24, constitutes 33 pee cent of the population of the state.
According to him, 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.
“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”.
Also speaking, Dr Mark Anthony, Executive Secretary, Kaduna State AIDs Control Agency (KADSACA) said 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 and 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.
According to him, 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.
Dogo described the pilot scheme of the AYP HIV intervention in Jaba and Jema’a local government area of the state, which began in Oct. 2014 a huge success.
“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.
“This has helped in reducing the spread of the virus, not just in the two pilot local governments, but the state as a whole.
“It was against this successes that the state decided to scale up the intervention with a view to reach out to more people,”the commissioner said.
Patience Shadow, one of the youths, said that the plan if well implemented would go a long way in addressing the scourge of HIV among youths.
“This is because ensuring a youths friendly centres in our healthcare facilities would attract us to go for counselling and testing, “she said.