As a targeted response to the 2018 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) that revealed, among other things, increased incidence of HIV infections amongst young people in Lagos State, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Lagos State Government through selected state ministries in conjunction with some development partners have launched a HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in Lagos.
Tagged HIV-Aware and implemented by Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI) – an adolescent health and life skills development organisation, the campaign was supported by Lagos State AIDS Control Agency (LSACA), and Haley’s Health Initiative (a health and productivity NGO).
The event was flagged off with a media launch on Friday, September 20, 2019, at Amber Residence, GRA, Ikeja, and aims at creating heightened awareness on the HIV prevalence in Lagos targeting young people especially females aged 15-24, in selected communities. This also offers them opportunities to gain actionable knowledge on healthy sexual and reproductive health behaviours, access to HIV Counselling and Testing as well as receive referrals for the required treatment.
Speaking at the media launch, the Officer in Charge, UNFPA Lagos, Dr Audu Alayande noted that the recent NAIIS report calls for an ‘aggressive response’. “With all the progress made with the HIV response nationwide, 7 states including Lagos account for 50 per cent of the national burden, while the incidence in females is significantly higher than in males – both among adolescents and young adults aged 15-24 years, thus the need for an aggressive response in the state especially among adolescent and young people,” he started.
In his keynote address, Mr Oduntan Bankole, Director Development Partnership, Lagos State Ministry of Economic Planning and Budgeting, stated that the number of infections among young people has increased since the last survey conducted in 2010, hence the need for the campaign.
On some of the possible factors responsible for this high incidence on the part of young people, the Assistant Director, HIV Desk of the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Mrs Fibisola Taiwo cited the adventurous nature of adolescents and poor parenting.
The Executive Director, YEDI, Oje Ivagba noted that the campaign which targeted 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 engender behavioural change. “This project targets girls, and we will be working with them within their communities, engaging with them in fun ways and conveying up-to-date HIV prevention-and-treatment messages to them thereby equipping them with relevant information to make the required positive steps to lead healthy lives,” he remarked at the media launch.
This phase of the campaign targets 1500 girls with a minimum of 1000 of them knowing their HIV status by accessing the free HIV counselling and testing component of the project, and begins on Monday, September 23 through September 30, 2019 across the following locations: Onala Field, Lagos Island and Oworonsoki Youth Center (Monday, September 23); Ibeshe Boys Scout Field – Ikorodu and Islamic Field, Abaranje, Ikotun (Tuesday, September 24); Epe Youth Center (Wednesday, September 25); Obele Youth Center – Surulere and Oshodi Youth Center (Friday, September 27); Mushin Youth Center and Ayobo Youth Center (Monday, September 30).