By Philip Yatai
Rigachikun – Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State is recording a decline in new cases of HIV among Adolescent and Young Persons (AYPs) since the introduction of AYPs HIV programme in 2016.
Malam Adamu Lawal, the council’s Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Local Action Committee on AIDS, made known to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Rigachikun on Thursday.
NAN reports that the AYPs programme is a UNICEF supported HIV intervention, designed to scale-up combination of HIV prevention, treatment and care services for AYPs in the state.
Lawal said that new cases of HIV have dropped from an average of five cases in a month to between one or two cases and sometimes zero.
He attributed the development to the massive HIV awareness and counselling services being offered by youths under the AYPs programme.
He said that so far, no fewer than 137,850 AYPs were provided with HIV information between 2016 and 2018, out of which 22,001 know their status and living a quality and protective lives.
One of the AYPs, Mr Husseini Bello, 23, told NAN that he never knew his HIV status until recently when he met the HIV services demand creators, counsellors and testers of the programme.
“They met me at a snooker joint where I normally hang out. I thought I knew everything about HIV until they began to educate us on risk factors and the need to be tested.
“After listening to them for a while I became convinced that I need to know my status. I got tested and was extremely delighted when the result turned out negative,” he said.
Bello said that the AYPs door-to-door campaign was the best thing that has happen to him, adding that he has voluntarily joined the campaign to create more awareness among the youth.
He, however, advised that souvenirs in the form of t-shirts or face caps be given to every youth that offers himself/herself to be tested, stressing that the measure will encourage others to do same.
Ms Samira Usman, 21, also said that she knew a little about HIV, adding that her knowledge of the virus and how to stay negative increased when she encountered AYPs HIV services demand creators.
She said: “As much as I want to know my HIV status, I don’t feel comfortable going to a health centre to get tested because most of the health workers are elderly.
“The AYPs programme gave me the opening I need; I did not have to go to a health centre to access HIV services, it was brought to my door step.
“I was so free because they were my peer group and I kind of join the campaign to reach out to as many youths as possible, particularly the girls who are more vulnerable to the disease.”
On Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV, Malama Balkisu Umar, a pregnant mother expressed satisfaction with HIV services provided at the Rigachikun Primary Health Care centre.
Umar, said that the facility, a five minutes’ walk from her house, provides all HIV services, from counselling to testing and other relevant information she needs to remain negative.
“The quality of service is impressive because we are well cared for whenever we come for antenatal care.
“The officials attend to us in good time and take time to educate us on key households’ practices that will keep us and our unborn child safe and healthy,” she said.
Mrs Khadija Abubakar, a nursing mother, equally expressed satisfaction with the quality of HIV and other health services at the centre.
“I feel at home whenever I come for antenatal care and am always looking forward to coming back for more services because of the way the officials enlighten us on how to live health lives.
“I was tested for HIV after several minutes of counselling. I was so happy when the result shows that I am negative and will remain so because of the rich information I got on HIV,” she said.
By Philip Yatai