• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Attaining Zero on HIV/AIDS through capacity building for young women

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According to the 2019 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey Results (NAIIS), Nigeria has a national HIV prevalence of 1.4 percent among persons aged 15 – 49 years.

This accounts for an estimated 1.9 million people living with HIV in Nigeria. However, women aged 15 – 49 years are disproportionally affected because they are more than twice as likely to be living with HIV than men.

Adolescent girls and young women living with HIV have limited/no access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health and rights services, including contraceptives, HIV testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis, and antiretroviral therapy.

This is largely due to limited availability of healthcare facilities, trained health-care providers, and stigma.

According to the 2021 People Living With HIV Stigma Index, 20 percent of people living with HIV have experienced HIV-related stigma, and about 60 percent of Nigerians hold discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV. This results in people staying away from HIV testing or accessing treatment if they need it.

Hence, Sustainable Impact and Development Initiative under the We Lead project supported by HIVOS organized a two days training for 20 adolescent girls and young women living with HIV aged 18 – 24 on SRHR advocacy in Lagos, Nigeria.

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The training involved sessions with experts covering Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, HIV/AIDS, and Advocacy. During the training, the girls worked in groups to identify the challenges and proffer recommendations for facilitating access to sexual reproductive health and rights information and services.

Some of the recommendations include: implementing strategies that offer economic empowerment for persons living with HIV to purchase their medications; constant awareness on HIV/AIDS through campaigns; positive advocacy leveraging art and technology; and providing multiple areas of access to right information and services.

The recommendations provided by the participants would be populated into a policy brief that would inform policy making decisions for increased access to sexual reproductive health information and services for young women living with HIV. The participants of the training highlighted some of the learnings; “I learnt more about PREP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) and voicing out in situations of discrimination from any angle.

Another participant shared, “I learnt that the law prohibits anybody or any organization from discriminating against or stigmatizing persons living with HIV”.
Elizabeth Talatu Williams, the Executive Director of the Sustainable Impact and Development Initiative, congratulated the trained advocates on the successful completion of the training.

She encouraged them to transfer the knowledge and skills they had gained to their peers.

She further called on all relevant stakeholders, including the government, civil society organizations, academic and religious institutions, private sector organizations, parents, and media agencies, to collectively work together to ensure that everyone, particularly young women living with HIV, has access to treatment in order to achieve viral suppression.

“We must all support people living with HIV and not stigmatize or discriminate against them. By doing this, we will be a step closer to the eradication of the AID pandemic by 2030 in Nigeria.”

The Sustainable Impact and Development Initiative for Adolescent and Youth is a youth-led non-governmental organization that is dedicated to advancing the sexual reproductive health and rights of adolescents and young people in urban and rural communities in Nigeria. The vision is to build a society where every young person can reach their full potential free of sexual health challenges, regardless of their socio-economic status.

We Lead is an innovative and far-reaching program that aims to strengthen the influence and position of young women whose sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRH-R) are neglected the most.

It targets young women and adolescent girls who: live with HIV; identify as lesbian, bisexual, trans, or intersex (LBTI); live with a disability; and/or are affected by displacement.