By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – The village Head of Angwan Sarki under Magajin Gari I in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna state, Aliyu Shehu Aliyu, has tasked adolescents in the community on the need to go for HIV test to know their status.
He said it is very important for youth from the age of 18 to know their status so as to remain safe.
The Royal Father gave the advise at the Adolescents and Young People (AYP)/ Prevention of Mother-to-child Transmission, (PMTCT) Testing and counselling organized by UNICEF Kaduna Office at Emir Road Town Hall in Birnin Gwari Town.
He explained that the youth from the community are now more enlightened on ways to avoid and prevent themselves from HIV /AIDS than they were in previous years.
“I am happy that the programme was brought to train and educate our youth in Birnin Gwari community because our adolescents need to know more about the disease. . My appeal to youth is to educate other youths that know nothing about HIV on how to prevent themselves.
“Youth need to know their HIV status and all other ways to prevent themselves from HIV . I in particular benefited from the information received from the AYP programme ,” he said.
The village Head also said there are about 60 adolescents that were trained as AYP Ambassadors that are equally expected to step down the knowledge acquired to their peers from neighbouring communities.
A 24-year old AYP participant, Isa iIiyasu who also said the training changed his knowledge of HIV commended the organisers of the sensitization.
“Now I know my status which made me happy. I think it’s important for adolescents to know their HIV status. People still need more enlightenment on the virus in rural areas.
“Our lives have changed with this programme as we now know and understand more about HIV/AIDs,” he said.
Iliyasu further expressed satisfaction on the programme as he called on other youth to always make themselves available for HIV testing .
It was gathered that the trained 60 AYPs made up of 40 females and 20 males probably lack full knowledge of the virus until when they were taught.
On Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission, (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS, Hauwa’u Abdulhamid, a nurse, said expecting mothers from the town and neighbouring villages do visit health facilities for antenatal sessions.
“Women are coming in large numbers for antenatal and we are educating them. In a week we do have up to 30 women coming for antenatal but the number is increasing. We do give them health talks and counsel them before they under go HIV test,” she said.
It was gathered that other women from neighbouring villages without facilities do come to Birnin Gwari town health facility for antenatal services.
The AYP intervention programme is one of the United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) supported programs that aims at scaling up HIV combination in terms of prevention, treatment and care services for adolescents and young people, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers in Kaduna rural communities.
The program is operational in seven Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Chikun, Igabi, Lere, Kagarko, Birnin-Gwari, Jaba and Jema’a LGAs of the State.
It seeks to among others, increase the number of adolescents and young persons (10-24) years who know their HIV status from 10 per cent to 40 per cent in the 7 LGA’s by December 2018, increase the proportion of sexually active adolescents (15-19) years using condoms from 30% to 50% in the 7 LGA’s by December 2018.
To Increase the percentage of HIV positive adolescents (10-24) years initiated on Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) from 1 per cent to 21 per cent in the 7 LGA’s by December 2018 and to also increase the number of primary/secondary schools providing Family Life and HIV Education (FLHE) from 25 per cent to 45 per cent in 7 the LGAs by December 2018.
UNICEF has been working in collaboration with the Kaduna State AIDS Control Agency, (KADSACA), and other partners to reduce and even eliminate HIV to its barest minimum in these LGAs.