22m with HIV/AIDS lack access to anti-retro-viral therapy: 76% Children, 80% Nigerians – UNICEF

By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna 

Worried by the age-long neglect and rising profiles, UNICEF has scaled up campaign for Care/Support and Protection of Adolescence and Young Persons, AYP, especially those living with HIV and AIDS, as 22 million people living with the virus are still not accessing antiretroviral therapy.

Similarly, 76% of the people living with HIV/AIDS are children. The stunning revelations was made by chairman Global Advocate for Peace and Social Justice, Faruk Abdullahi Chiromari, at a one-day workshop organised for reporters and programme producers on AYPs in Zaria, in Kaduna state, by UNICEF and NOA.

The Child Protection expert, who disclosed this in a paper at the workshop, explained that the proportions of those, who don’t have access to treatment, is 58 percent in South Africa, 64% in India and 80% in Nigeria, respectively.

The paper, titled “Understanding Child Protection Issues In Accessing Care/Support For Adolescent Living with HIV/AIDS,” noted that the challenge being faced is lack of access to antiretroviral therapy.

“Lack of access to antiretroviral therapy remains a cause for concern.  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,” he said.

Chiromrari explained that involvement of Media is very important, because of their strategic position in shaping the societal norms, through promoting culture, values and influencing change [Positive or Negative]. “Therefore, our Media partners and CSO should be our stronghold in consistent advocacy towards accessing care and support to adolescents living with HIV/AIDS,” he said.

Earlier, UNICEF officer in-charge, Dr Idris Baba, in a lecture, said AYP intention’s project on HIV test campaign among young people had been in progress in seven selected local governments of Lere, Igabi Jaba, and Chikun, among others, in Kaduna state, and are yielding results.

He said the AYP are vulnerable to HIV for lack of information and lukewarm attitudes toward use of Condom, as majority of them are unmarried, saying young people, including boys and girls, were trained within different communities in the 7 LGs, who canvass for Condom and test for HIV among themselves to know their status.

He revealed that there was a particular LG where young people were discovered to be using Santana leather as protection in place of Condom.

The expert therefore called on government to remove stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV, and introduce policies that improve the lot of victims.

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