By Victor Osae IHIDERO, Kaduna
Kaduna State’s Adolescent and Young Persons (AYPs) has said that they are still vulnerable at this stage of their development.
The AYPs said this in Chikun Local Government Council whilst lauding the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Kaduna State Government’s commencement of the implementation of the AYPs HIV Intervention Programme sequel to an Advocacy visit paid to the Council.
One of the AYPs, Miss Adekoniye Omowunmi Adeola, lauds UNICEF and the Kaduna State Government for using young people in identifying AYPs living with HIV and mobilizing them to demand for services and access to health facilities.
“We are adolescents, we are at our vulnerable stage because we like to experiment; we like to try new things and this exposes us to risky behaviours; it makes us vulnerable. Therefore, using youths to create the needed awareness about HIV and making health centres youth-friendly would greatly increase demand for HIV services”, she said.
On her part, Dr Juliana Dauda Bungwa, Director, Prevention, Treatment, Care and Psychology, Kaduna State AIDS Control Agency (KADSACA) noted that the intervention programme has become necessary in view of the huge number of AYPs living with HIV in the state.
According to her, the project is a UNICEF supported programme designed to scale-up HIV combination of prevention, treatment and care services for adolescent and young people in Chikun, Igabi, Lere, Kagarko, Birnin Gwari, Jaba and Jema’a local government areas with a target of reaching 18,000 AYPs living with HIV.
“The advocacy and sensitisation visits were to mobilise stakeholders at grassroots for the successful implementation of the AYP project in the state.
“A sizable number of the AYP population in Kaduna state are not aware of their HIV status, and even when they do, they are not accessing services at health centres.
“They do not go to the health centres because the services are not youth-friendly.
“This project was designed to make the services youth-friendly and involve the AYP in demand creation for HIV services.
In the same vein, Mrs Victoria Jatau, the Sole Administrator of Chikun Local Government Council commended the strategy deployed by UNICEF and the Kaduna State Government in taking development to the grassroots as she promised to give all the needed supports for the successful implementation of AYP projects in the local government.