Youths, others advocate utilisation of technology, innovation for HIV prevention

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By Justina Auta

Some youth groups and other stakeholders have called for the use of technology and innovation to promote HIV prevention, meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and “95-95-95” targets of ending AIDS by 2030.

They made the call at the closing ceremony of the 2024 Nigeria HIV Prevention Conference organised by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and others on Thursday in Abuja.

Ms Elizabeth Williams, representing 170 participating youths, stressed the need for strengthening multi-sectoral response, prioritising the needs of adolescents and young people, and their inclusion in national HIV prevention programmes.

“We recognise the transformative potential of science, technology, and innovation, in driving sustainable development and promoting HIV prevention among youths evidenced by the YAHNaija story in Nigeria.

“We urge all stakeholders to harness digital technologies and social media platforms to deliver HIV prevention messages, promote healthy behaviours, and facilitate access to testing and support services for adolescents and young people,” she said.

She called for a multi-stakeholder approach to the development of mobile health applications and online platforms for HIV education, self-testing, adherence support, and virtual counselling services.

“These should be tailored to the needs and preferences of adolescent and young people living with HIV, including key populations.

“We advocate for bridging the digital divide in the context of HIV prevention, recognising the transformative potential of technology in reaching vulnerable populations,” she said.

Williams also called on the government to sustain the multi-sectoral response for HIV prevention and the integration of sustainable HIV prevention strategies.

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“We, the Nigerian adolescents, and youths, including Persons Living with HIV and the Key Population, stand united in our commitment to working towards a brighter and more sustainable future for our country and the African continent.

“We call upon the government and all stakeholders to join hands with us in advancing the sustainable development goals and realising the aspirations of the 95%-95%-95% targets by 2030,” she said.

Dr Temitope Ilori, Director General, NACA, reaffirmed his commitment towards partnering with all stakeholders to end HIV in Nigeria.

“We are ready to drive the accelerated decline in HIV infection and we are going to strengthen our multi-sectoral engagement,” she said.

Also, Dr Leo Zekeng, Country Director, UNAIDS, said implementing the recommendations, more advocacies, resource mobilisation and support would ensure an end to HIV in Nigeria.

He said: “I strongly believe that it is possible for us to reduce those new infections. I strongly believe that by working together we can end AIDS in this beautiful country.”

Ms Funmi Adesanya, Country Coordinator, President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), urged the participants to ensure that they implement, and cascade lessons learnt to others to end HIV/AIDs in Nigeria.

“You all are going to be the change agents that are going to bring innovation at a grassroots level for the Local Government Area level and for the state level across your communities.

“The various faith networks really ensure that we close the tabs on new HIV infections,” she said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Kadiri Abdulrahman and Abiemwense Moru

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