From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi.
Over 196,000 adolescents, representing 10 percent of the global burden, are said to be living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria with an alarming estimated number of AIDS-related deaths, UNICEF’s analysis of UNAIDS 2013 HIV and AIDS estimates have shown.
UNICEF’s HIV Specialist for Adolescents and Young People’s Team Leader, Dr. Victoria Isiramen, stated this yesterday at a two-day stakeholders meeting organised by the Benue State AIDs Control Agency (BENSACA) in collaboration with UNICEF.
Isiramen lamented that AIDS-related deaths are declining rapidly for all age groups except adolescents even as new HIV infections are declining rapidly among children, but much less among older adolescents aged 15 to 19 and young adults aged 20 to 24.
She explained that it was for this reason that all hands must be on deck to fast-track and achieve the Vision 90/90/90 towards ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by the year 2030. “Vision 90/90/90 means that 90 percent of adolescents infected with HIV/AIDS have access to testing, 90 percent of those infected are enrolled for treatment out of which 90 percent should be able to achieve virological suppression so that by 2030, there will be no HIV at all.”
Also speaking, Executive Director of BENSACA, Dr Gideon Dura, maintained that the essence of the workshop was to target adolescents who get involved with so many vices which affect them both socially and medically, most of which make them to enter adulthood with poor health challenge.
While noting that the programme had just been introduced in Nigeria, with Benue and Kaduna piloting it, Dura stressed the need to take care of the adolescents who constitute the future leaders of the country, so they can have a healthy adulthood.