United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with Kaduna State Government has screened 4,343 youths for HIV/Aids in Jema’a Local Government Area of the state from August to date.
They also provided HIV counseling and testing services to 21,015 youths in the area within the months under review.
The Coordinator, Local Action Committee on Aids in the area, Mrs Binta Yem, made the disclosure in Kafanchan on Wednesday, at skills acquisition training organised for young girls.
NAN reports that the training programme was part of activities organised to mark the 2017 World AIDS Day.
Yem said 4,343 of the 21,015 youths were screened, out of which 24 were found to be positive and placed on treatment.
She said the youths were reached under the Adolescent and Young Persons (AYPs) project, a UNICEF supported programme designed to scale-up HIV combination of prevention, treatment and care services for AYPs in the state.
She said the skill acquisition training was organised particularly to reach out to young girls who are lagging behind their male counterparts in HIV testing.
According to her, only one or two out of every 10 AYPs tested in the local government area were girls.
“Most of the AYPs that were counselled and tested were boys with only a few girls among them.
“The reason is because the boys are easily accessible on football field and other social gathering, while the girls are usually at home.
“To celebrate the 2017 World AIDS Day, we decided to organise the skill acquisition training in beads making and make -up, among other skills as a strategy to bring the young girls out.
“It is such that while they are learning the skills, they will be counselled and tested for HIV,” Yem said
One of the adolescent girls, Ummi Shuaibu, could not hide her joy after being tested, describing the initiative as youth friendly.
“I have never been tested before because it is usually done by elderly persons, but seeing that the counsellors and testers are adolescents like me, I did not hesitate to offer myself to be tested.
“I really commend UNICEF and the Kaduna State Government for this laudable initiative,” she said.
Abba Gideon, one of the HIV/AIDS service demand creators in the LGA, told NAN that only few adolescent girls offered themselves for testing.
Gideon said the challenge was more among the Muslim communities they visited, saying that they always declined to be tested even after educating them about HIV and AIDS.
The HIV and AIDS Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna, Dr Idris Baba, said the project was being implemented in seven local government areas of Chikun, Igabi, Lere, Kagarko, Birnin Gwari, Jaba and Jema’a.
He said that 624 demand creators, counselors and testers have been trained for the project.
He said that 468 are creating demand for HIV services, while 156 are providing HIV counseling and testing services in the seven LGAs.
“This is because only a few of AYPs in the state know their HIV status, and the reason is simple; HIV services in our health facilities are not youth-friendly.
“The youths are not comfortable discussing HIV related issues with elderly people.
“They feel comfortable with their peers and open up more; meaning that we will break more grounds when we engage the youths to sensitise their peers about the virus to increase demand for the services.