Prevent HIV/AIDS among young adults?: Involve them from the start

Prevent HIV/AIDS among young adults?: Involve them from the start

Involving young people in tackling the HIV epidemic in Nigeria

The HIV epidemic in Nigeria is complex and varies widely by region. In some states, it is more concentrated and driven by high-risk groups, while others have more generalized epidemics sustained primarily by multiple sexual partners in the general population. This field note by the Global Health Council outlines how youth and young adults in Nigeria are particularly vulnerable to HIV. The author considers how Nigeria has been slow to respond to the onset of the epidemic which has young people it’s centre. It is young people who suffer the major impacts, including loss of jobs, denial of admission into some universities, marriage breakups, and denial of participation in politics and other social activities.

The paper discusses The African Youth Development Foundation (AFRYDEF), a Nigerian NGO established in 1999 to cost-effectively empower young people, women and children to choose a better future for themselves in society. The ‘Testing 4 life’ campaign, which emphasised the importance of early detection in HIV/AIDS treatment and care, is discussed as is the Global Week of Action on AIDS. In addition the ‘Voices That Care’ initiative, which encouraged the involvement of governments and religious leaders and promoted education, is outlined and evaluated. The author concludes that involving young people in peer education and the design and planning of behaviour change communication programs is the best, if not the only way to empower them. When youths take part in developing social and group norms that protect against HIV infection, they serve as positive role models for their peers.