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Youths appeals for more engagement to fight HIV/AIDS

THE Association of Positive Youth Living with HIV/AIDS has advocated for more engagement of youths in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country.

The group said this would enhance response and mitigate stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.

Mr Aron Sunday, the Kaduna State Coordinator of the association, made this known at the Youth Summit to commemorate the 2016 World AIDS Day on Tuesday in Abuja.

The summit is part of the ongoing National HIV/AIDS Prevention Conference.

He said making youth advocates of the disease and empowering them with basic skills can easily pass HIV/AIDS messages in the manner that is more comprehensible to the youths.

He added that skills empowerment programmes will empower the youths and mitigate the burden of the disease in Nigeria.

“We have to mobilise them, educate and boost their awareness on the disease, and build their capacity; because if the youths are not engage in the programme we will be losing out.

“We have to continue with the advocacy to ensure that the youths in Nigeria are adequately engaged in the fight to control the disease by 2020 and halt it by 2030,’’ he said.

Speaking earlier, Dr Bilali Camara, Country Director, Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS UNAIDS, said the summit was to ascertain best ways to use modern technology to reach millions of youths with messages on HIV/AIDS.

He appealed to stakeholders to focus more on youths, adding “if you do not address the youth issues we will not get substantial success in terms of ending the scourge in general’’.

According to him, Nigeria is recording a huge success in the fight to end the disease in 2015, three million pregnant women were tested and 65,000 were affected by the disease.

“We are reducing new infections and putting more people on treatment, while we are working to ensure that people affected with HIV/AIDS live longer and also have a productive life.’’

He said UNAIDS and other UN systems were working in collaboration with all stakeholders to get HIV/AIDS under control by 2020 and eliminate the disease as a public health challenge by 2030.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the World AIDS Day had been an annual event since 1988.

The day is dedicated to raising awareness on AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who died of the virus.

Government and health officials, NGOs and individuals around the world observe the day, often with awareness on AIDS prevention and control.

The World AIDS Day is one of the eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organisation