The National Youth Network on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria says it has reached over 70, 000 youths in Lagos State with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention messages and treatment within five years.
Olanrewaju Babamole, Lagos State Coordinator of NYNETHA, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Lagos.
NYNETHA is the umbrella body, representing Nigeria youths, in the planning and implementing of multi-sectoral HIV/AIDS response.
Babamole said that the organisation’s programme aims at combating HIV/AIDS and promote issues of population and sustainable youths with one collective voice.
He said that NYNETHA reached adolescents and young people in Lagos with comprehensive information on HIV/AIDS, condoms distribution across the states, HIV Smart Testing Kits and partnered on provision of youths friendly services.
“Increasing youths’ understanding of HIV; what contributes to HIV; prevention and treatment options are crucial to controlling the HIV epidemic.
“We deliver basic and factual information on HIV/AIDS, the benefits of HIV counselling, and testing to know their HIV health status,” he said.
“The MTV Shuga programme brings to the attention of young people the social complexities of negotiating safer sexual and lifestyle decisions,” he said.
Babamole said that in spite of the disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic, NYNETHA did not relent in its youth-centred programme campaign of training, advocacy and meaningful youth engagement.
He said that it also engaged in youth involvement and participation in the process of policy formulation and implementation.
Babamole said that NYNETHA evolved the strategy of using courier services to deliver drugs to populations that it served toward easing their access to treatment during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We also used the social media to disseminate information on HIV prevention and advise to practise safe sex.
“We held virtual meetings with key stakeholders to highlight the intervention gaps and necessary approaches for an integrated HIV/AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health Response, while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
The coordinator of NYNETHA said that UNFPA has been a great partner in supporting NYNETHA programmes with technical support and funds.
Babamole, however, complained that current funding of government, particularly for youth-led initiatives, was not enough.
He appealed to the government to increase funding for youth-focussed programmes, expand availability of comprehensive youth-friendly information and services, confidential counselling and testing.