Nigeria launches campaign to curb the spread of HIV among young people

The Nigerian government on Monday launched the Youthful Alive and Healthy (YAaH Naija) campaign, an innovative intervention that aims to scale up the uptake of high-impact HIV prevention tools.

The general manager of the National AIDS Control Agency (NACA)Gambo Aliyu, said the initiative aims to provide high impact prevention interventions to vulnerable groups.

He added that the initiative will combine digital and social networks.

Represented by the agency’s Deputy Director, Prevention and Community Care, Ezinne Uchendu, he said this will be achieved by introducing HIV self-testing and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to adolescents and young people. more vulnerable.

Mr Aliyu said young people are at the center of reducing HIV infections in the country.

“If we can get our interventions for adolescents and young people in place, we can reduce HIV infections in Nigeria,” he said.

Aliyu said the mode of transmission (MOT) study launched in 2020 shows that most cases of HIV infection occur among unmarried young people.

“We use HIV self-testing and PrEP to target these groups of people,” he said.

YaaH Naija

According to NACA, YAaH Naija is an intervention that aims to use U-report and other digital tools to mobilize and engage adolescents and young people (AYP) in comprehensive HIV prevention knowledge activities.

He said the project will work with AYP peer networks and geolocation tools for targeted service delivery, referral and linkages; support capacity building, evidence generation and dissemination to achieve sustainable HIV results at scale.

“YAaH Naija is the Nigerian version of U-Test which is an innovative West African regional intervention by UNICEF,” NACA said.

And like U-Test, YAaH Naija’s intervention is also supported by UNICEF.


Speaking at the launch, UNAIDS Country Director in Nigeria, Leo Zekeng, said the launch is a groundbreaking event “because it creates an opportunity to engage with young people”.

Mr Zekeng said that despite the remarkable progress made in the AIDS response, it remains a health and development challenge “because young people are not at the center of the response”.

“In 2021, more than 38 million adults and children were living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. It is also estimated that in 2021 we recorded 1.5 million new infections among adolescents and adults.

READ ALSO: Nigeria contributed ‘derisory’ 18% of $6.2 billion spent on HIV/AIDS in 13 years – NACA DG

“In 2021, around 650,000 people died from HIV/AIDS,” he said.

Mr Zekeng said inequality continued to drive Nigeria’s AIDS response, adding that young people between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for around 15% of the world’s population and around a third of new infections.

He said more cases are recorded among teenagers and young women.

Mr. Zekeng noted that the in-depth knowledge of young people and adolescents is still low, at around 29%.

He said; “I’m excited about the YAaHNaija because it uses user-friendly technology to ensure we have access to knowledge, services and can continue to engage young people.”

Primary prevention

Mr. Zekeng said that although the country is making good progress in getting treatment, it is lagging behind in primary prevention.

He said primary prevention is the cornerstone for achieving the 95-95-95 target set by UNAIDS.

In his remarks, the National Coordinator of the Association of Positive Youth in Nigeria (APYIN), Aaron Sunday, said that this is a movement for adolescents and young people.

Mr Sunday said the intervention activated all the blocks needed to address the HIV response in the context of prevention and also closing tabs.

“As young people, we are opportune to be part of this process, leading it to the forefront and we wish to see the success of a Nigeria where the HIV epidemic is under control and where no adolescent and young person will be newly infected,” he said.

A representative of the Federal Women’s Affairs Ministry, Maimuna Shuaib, said the ministry’s mandates focus on women, children and youth.

Ms Shuaib said there had been various advocacy to educate young people on HIV prevention strategies.

“If young people are healthy, they will give birth to a healthy generation,” she said.

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