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Iniabasi Umo, Next: UNESCO chief Nzuki describes HIV/AIDS as major threat to Milennium Development Goals (MDGs)

UNESCO chief Nzuki describes HIV/AIDS as major threat to Milennium Development Goals (MDGs)
by Iniabasi Umo, August 12, 2011

Lead ImagePhoto: REUTERS.

By Iniabasi Umo, August 12, 2011  

 The prevalence of HIV/AIDS among the youth in Nigeria has been described as a hindrance to the realisation of the country’s Millennium Development Goals, chief of the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) field Office ‘A’, Enugu, Charles Nzuki, has said.

Speaking yesterday in Uyo, Mr Nzuki said different surveys conducted around 2007 to 2010 showed that a higher HIV prevalence was witnessed among people less than 25 years old and that the epidemic has constituted serious hindrances to different aspects of human development.

He also said it remained a major threat to the fulfilment of the MDGs.

He noted that the federal government of Nigeria/UNICEF country programme between 2009-2012 identifies young people as important stakeholders in the control of the AIDS epidemic and attributed the high prevalence rate of the disease among this group of people to their capacity to engage in unprotected high risk sexual behaviours and drug/alcohol abuse.

“The HIV/AIDS National Strategic Framework for Action on HIV/AIDS (2010-2015) and the National HIV/AIDS Prevention Plan identifies young people as a key target group for intervention,” he said. “Their obligations towards promoting HIV/AIDS free generation have been explored through several youth-focused initiatives. Currently, UNICEF collaborates with other partners to support the implementation of HIV prevention and life skills education to young people through the National Youth Service Corps Scheme.” He explained that the project equips thousands of in-school young people nationwide with knowledge and skills on how to prevent HIV infection.

The Akwa Ibom state coordinator of the National Youth Service Corps, Aniefiok Okpongete, also stated that for almost three decades, humanity has been faced with the threat of HIV/AIDS.

He said it is based this revelation that the NYSC/UNICEF Adolescent Reproductive Health/HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support project was launched in the state to target youths in school through the NYSC Peer Education Training Programme.

“The PET programme is executed by the volunteer corps members, trained according to UNICEF standards and equipped to carry out anti-HIV/AIDS campaigns in secondary schools and communities across the states of the federation,” he said. “The mandate of the PETs is to train and mentor at least 40 students as peer influencers and behaviour change agents among their peers, colleagues and community members.” The state commissioner for Health, Francis Udoikpong, represented by HIV/AIDS Prevention Officer in the ministry, Lucy Ekpo, said the scourge of HIV/AIDS could only be tackled once there is a behaviour change.

According to her, there is no amount of advertisement or campaign that can make people stop the habit of engaging in unprotected sex, except the people have conditioned their minds to leave such risky behaviours.


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