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Peer pressure, others fuel rise in HIV infection among adolescents

Photo: MEDICALNEWSTODAY

The recent Nigerian Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/ Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) has shown increased incidence of the viral infection amongst young people.

There are projections that about 740,000 additional adolescents could become infected between 2016 and 2030.

To curtail the impending scourge, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Lagos State Government through selected state ministries in conjunction with some development partners have inaugurated an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in Lagos.

The Assistant Director, HIV Desk, Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Mrs. Fibisola Taiwo, said that peer pressure, the adventurous nature of adolescents and poor parenting are major causes of the increased incidence in adolescents.

As part of efforts to curtail the scourge, Taiwo noted the ministry has set out peer education programme for out of school young people where they discuss HIV infection.

The campaign tagged ‘HIV-Aware’ and implemented by Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI) aims at creating heightened awareness on the HIV prevalence in Lagos targeting young people especially females aged 15-24, in selected communities, as well as offering them an opportunity to gain actionable knowledge on healthy sexual and reproductive health behaviour, access HIV Counselling and Testing and receive referrals for required treatment.

Officer in Charge, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Lagos, Dr. Audu Alayande, said that the recent NAIIS report calls for strategic approach.

He said that promotion of human rights, reducing inequalities, integrating HIV response into sexual and reproductive healthcare and prevention of sexually transmitted infection and HIV are ways UNFPA are addressing the menace.

Alayande noted that they are committed to the vision of zero new HIV infections; zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

Director Development Partnership, Lagos State Ministry of Economic Planning and Budgeting, Mr. Oduntan Bankole, explained that the number of infections among young people has increased since the last survey conducted in 2010, hence the need for the campaign.

Similarly, YEDI’s Executive Director, Oje Ivagba, said that the campaign, which targets young girls in selected disadvantaged communities in Lagos, would be deploying the organisation’s adolescent-specific and evidence-based fun, interactive, and engaging approach to drive home the message and stimulate behavioural change.

He said the project, which targets girls, would equip them with relevant information, up-to-date HIV prevention and treatment messages to make the required positive steps to lead healthy lives.

“This phase of the campaign targets 1500 girls with a minimum of 1000 of them knowing their HIV status by accessing the free HIV counseling and testing component of the project,” Iyagba added.

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