By Longtong Ibrahim, Sr Reporter
Media practitioners in Kaduna state have been tasked on the need to increase reportage on issues affecting adolescent and young people living with HIV/AIDS. This was necessitated, following the 50 percent increasing prevalence rate of HIV and less than 10 percent knowledge of HIV status among young people in the state.
Speaking on Wednesday at a one-day media dialogue with Journalists on Adolescents and Young Persons (AYPs), organized by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency in Zaria, a child protection Expert, Faruk Abdullahi, pointed out that media is key in making consistent advocacy towards accessing care and support to adolescents living with HIV/AIDS.
While making his presentation on the topic ‘Understanding Child Protection, Issues in Accessing care/support for Adolescent Living with HIV/AIDS’, he noted that adolescents are most vulnerable due to their continual exposure to different forms of child labor, abuse and trafficking; as such, the media has a great role in protecting and reporting such ills.
Abdullahi also noted that, “global statistics reveals that 22 million people living with HIV are still not accessing antiretroviral therapy – the proportions of people, who do not have access to treatment are 58% in South Africa, 64% in India and 80% in Nigeria; 76% of children living with HIV are not receiving HIV treatment.”
According to him, HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Nigeria is declining among adults as a result of extensive campaign, while there is a 50 percent increase among adolescents over time.
He further emphasized that Journalists should ensure that adolescents are targeted with adequate and useful information on HIV/AIDS, in order to curb the menace and stay safe.
Earlier speaking, Kaduna State UNICEF Field Officer, Idris Baba, said his organization has committed significant resources to supporting AYPs HIV intervention programme in seven local government areas of Kaduna state, namely, Igabi, Birnin Gwari, Lere, Kagarko, Chikun, Jaba and Jema’a, positing that, much cannot be achieved without media’s support.
He further added that UNICEF has budgeted about 200 million to run the AYPs programme on HIV prevention, treatment and care.
Baba also noted that the main objectives of the intervention programme was to raise AYP access to HIV testing from 20 to 40 per cent, increase condom usage among adolescents from 30 to 50 percent in the seven local areas, raise the use of anti retro viral therapy from one to 21 per cent among HIV positive persons and increase the number of schools providing Family Life Health Education from the present 25 per cent to 45 per cent by the end of the programme in May 2018.