On World AIDS Day, Nigeria’s youth are gearing up to lead the first-ever national youth-focused, 5-year HIV prevention campaign that will harness the collective energy of Nigeria’s youth to realize an HIV-negative generation.
The Generation – Negative (Gen-N) campaign, announced today by the Nigerian National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) seeks to build a movement fueled by the country’s 43.2 million youth aged 15 to 24 to catalyze uptake of HIV prevention, treatment and care services by adolescents and young people in Nigeria.
The Gen-N campaign seeks to empower the adolescents and young people (AYP) with the life skills to stay free of HIV, and identify Gen-N Heroes (community leaders, health workers and youth themselves) who will remove barriers to accessing care and serve as community champions to inspire and enable youth and their peers to adopt healthy behaviors and remain HIV Negative. The goal of an HIV-free generation is within reach – if everyone takes part.
HIV remains a serious health challenge in Nigeria with 41 percent of new cases occurring among young people ages 15-24. Contributing to this is the fact that among 10–14-year-olds, only 1.4 percent of girls and 1.7 percent of boys demonstrated a comprehensive knowledge of HIV (NAIIS 2018). Likewise, the 2018 NDHS reported that only 43 percent of young women and 34 percent of young men aged 15-24 have comprehensive knowledge of HIV.
NACA’s Deputy Director and Head of Prevention, Daniel Ndukwe, stated that “It is within our power to stop the spread of HIV, but we cannot expect young people to do it alone when they are not empowered with the skills to stay HIV negative, shamed for visiting health facilities, taking medications, or buying condoms”. Ndukwe encouraged young people to take action as Gen-N heroes by accessing available HIV prevention and treatment services and encouraging other young people to support peers to remain HIV negative and live positively.
Through meaningful engagement with adolescents and young people, the campaign will build trust and encourage young people to take ownership of their sexual health to remain HIV negative.
The Youth Advisor for MOSAIC project, a young person herself, Adaobi Olisa, noted that “Gen-N is a promise of hope and now is the right time with the rising number of new HIV infections among adolescents and young people in sub-Saharan Africa.” She also explained that young people in Nigeria fear HIV, but they are also afraid of being judged by their parents, peers, health care providers and partners, so most of them are not taking steps to protect themselves. Gen-N provides a unique platform to bring all youth-focused HIV prevention interventions and communication under one umbrella and to re-energize young people to
strive for an HIV free generation.
NACA appreciates Maximizing Options to Advance Informed Choice for HIV Prevention (MOSAIC) project supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), for her immense support towards the launch of the campaign.
USAID is proud to support the Government of Nigeria’s efforts for inclusive approaches to achieve HIV epidemic control through PEPFAR especially amongst our youth. USAID supports comprehensive services for more than 690,000 people on HIV treatment in 17 states and delivers HIV commodities including test kits, antiretroviral medicines, and laboratory commodities to supported facilities across Nigeria.
The launch of the Gen-N campaign is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the MOSAIC project and do not necessarily reflect the views of PEPFAR, USAID, or the U.S. Government. MOSAIC is a global cooperative agreement (# 7200AA21CA00011) led by FHI 360, with core partners Jhpiego, LVCT Health, Pangaea Zimbabwe AIDS Trust, Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, and AVAC.
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