World AIDS Day: Stakeholders Demand Focus on Youths

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Photo credit: NDTV

As the world marks this year’s AIDS Day, stakeholders have advocated that special attention be given to the youths in the execution of policies towards ending the scourge.

The stakeholders who spoke on Wednesday in Abuja at a ceremony to commemorate the 2022 WAD, also called for equal access to HIV services.

The ceremony was organised by AIDS HealthCare Foundation (AHF), in collaboration with other partners such as UNAIDS, NACA and UNICEF.

Speaking on the global theme, “Equalise to end AIDS”, Dr Echey Ijezie, country programme director, AHF Nigeria, said the essence was to ensure equal access to treatment and prevention for everyone.

“We at AHF are lending our voice by saying it is not over; we want to ensure there is equal access to treatment, inequalities are eradicated, and whatever barriers that are there are removed.

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“We want everyone to access treatment services; we are also reminding the general public that HIV is still with us.

“A lot of success has been made and we want to thank all relevant stakeholders for their roles toward ensuring a significant downwards trend especially in Nigeria,’’ he said.

Ijezie, also called on government and all stakeholders to intensify efforts toward ending AIDS.

Dr Victoria Isiramen, health manager, Adolescents, Health and HIV programming at UNICEF Nigeria, called for special attention to adolescents and young people in the HIV response in Nigeria.

Isiramen said it was important to prioritise the response to address key issues that affect the 10-24 years group.

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“We have about 70 million of this group of people in Nigeria; that is a huge population with peculiar character.

“They are young, they are growing, they are in their behavioural stimulation stage and they need to develop in a proper way, they need to be skilled and empowered.

“This is their formative years, so if we want a generation and a future that is secured, we need to invest in young people.”

She further said that Nigeria had a strategic plan to ensure zero new infections, zero stigma and discrimination, especially in young girls.

“This is because our data is showing that of the 7,600 new infections that happen in young people in 2021, many of them are girls.

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“So, if we invest more in a girl, we secure her future, we secure her future partner and the life of the child she will give birth to.

“This is a call to Nigeria as a country; we have gone a long way in HIV response, we have good plans, now we need to implement with our monies, energy and commitment,” she said.

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