HIV/AIDS vulnerabilities, discrimination, and service accessibility of Nigeria's youth

HIV/AIDS vulnerabilities, discrimination, and service accessibility of Nigeria's youth

Nigerian youth continue to be a vulnerable group. The imbalance between high-risk sex, condom use in high-risk sex, and uptake of HIV testing raises concern for HIV prevention. This young population should have access to comprehensive SRH services and youth-focused sexuality education that goes beyond abstinence-only messages.

This is the key conclusion outlined in this report which discuss findings of a study conducted between August 2011 and July 2012 to: provide a comprehensive, evidence-based picture of HIV and sexual health and rights (SHR) related issues facing Nigerian youth; as well as explore legal, policy, and programmatic responses. The study was designed to inform a more focused approach for youth within the national response to HIV, particularly around responding to youth needs and vulnerabilities, including stigma and discrimination, especially for the most vulnerable populations such as men who have sex with men, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, female sex workers, married adolescents, orphans, prisoners, and migrants.

Based on the results of the study, the following recommendations are made:

  • improving sexual health-seeking behaviors, especially uptake of HCT and condom use by all youth, through a combination of youth-accessible communication channels, is imperative
  • evidence-based advocacy needs to be targeted at policymakers and donors to bring greater attention to the youth dimensions of the HIV epidemic, especially in relation to neglected vulnerable youth
  • innovative operational research is called for to better understand how to increase the meaningful involvement of young people in the conception, planning, and implementation of SRH and HIV/AIDS policies and programs
  • efforts to promote the mainstreaming of youth-friendly SRH and HIV services are required given the challenges of scaling up and sustaining the few model stand-alone services provided largely by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)
  • a strong case exists for systematic domestication of key international regional protocols.
  • alignment of national and subnational laws and of civil, customary, and religious laws need to be advocated for strongly to ensure that laws and policies are not contradictory, and implementation of existing youth-specific laws and policies need to be improved
  • the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) must live up to its oversight function of ensuring that young people are not neglected in national HIV policies and programs
  • the government needs to increase funding and demonstrate ownership and sustainability of youth-based HIV programs