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Young People and HIV/AIDS in Nigeria: The Reality Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by KINGSLEY, Nigeria Feb 8, 2005
Health   Opinions


According to UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, “we must empower young people to protect themselves through information and supportive social environments that reduce their vulnerability to infection.” Information on HIV/AIDS for young people is found in government and NGO programmes (for example, the popular ZIP UP by Society for Family Health). They are fashioned as media jingles, adverts and billboards. They emphasise sexual behaviour, abstention, mutual monogamy between uninfected partners, and the correct and consistent use of condoms.

The government has not done much to provide support to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC infected with HIV/AIDS). Stigmatization and discrimination against young people living with HIV/AIDS are on the increase. A strong example is the exclusion of the five representatives of young people living with HIV/AIDS from the National Youth Network on HIV at the 2004 National Youth Forum on HIV/AIDS. There are incidences of discrimination and stigmatization of infected young people in areas of employment, healthcare, access to treatment and involvement in national processes. These defy the standards of the Universal Declaration of human rights, the International Covenants on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Nigerian constitution.

Young people were not involved in the planning, implementation, care and support of HIV/AIDS prevention programmes. But involvement began in 2004 at the 4th National Conference on HIV/AIDS, the National Youth Consultative Meeting on HIV/AIDS and the National Youth Forum on HIV/AIDS.
In line with the words of Gro Harlem Brundland, World Health Organization Director General, “young people need adult assistance to deal with the thoughts, feelings and experiences that accompany physical maturity. Evidence from around the world has clearly shown that providing information building skills on human sexuality and human relationships help to avert health problems and create more mature and responsible attitudes.”

The involvement of young people has faced serious constraints due to lack of a national youth coalition: inadequate attention on young people living with HIV/AIDS; inadequate representation; funding and sponsorship of youths regarding geo-political zones, states, ethnicity, religion, HIV status and sexual orientation; inadequate capacity and skills building; and lack of strong political commitment.

Youths in Nigeria are reversing the trend from an opportunity of crisis. They are now the solution, not the problem. With the support and co-operation of the government and its agencies, the UN System, Development partners and large NGOs, we will soon count our blessings and name them one after the other. With the efforts and concerns of coalitions and networks of young people across the globe and in unity, we shall fight AIDS.

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Writer Profile

There is an awful lot of things to be done and different ways to do them...but how can all these be done without logical thought...That's PLANNING.

Kingsley Onyekwere Essomeonu, in his opinion sees planning as a MUST to success.

Kingsley had experience in journalism, having studied mass comunication. A PGD in Journalism from the International Institute of journalism, IIJ, and currently studying for his Masters in Community Development and Social Welfare. He had editorial experience at Imo Broadcasting Corporation, Owerri (1998-99) during his internship. He was the campus and departmental editor of FORUM newspaper during his undergraduate days, and was the editor of KADCORPS Magazine during his National Youths service (NYSC) in Kaduna State.

A UNICEF-trained expert on reproductive health & HIV/AIDS prevention. A UNDP/UNEAD-trained expert in Conflict Resolution & Management. He is the co-ordinator of Society for Adolecents & Youth Health International and SAYHI Nigeria.

His ongoing project is YOUNGIES which focuses on young people aged 15-29 in and out of school in the southeastern states of Nigeria.

He needs the submissions of TIG members to this piece.

E –mail okinx2000@yahoo.com
Phone - 234-(0) 803-669-5163

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