At a time when rates of new HIV cases have plummeted, even in far poorer countries, according to UNAIDS 2018 estimates, Nigeria accounted for 240,000 of the world’s 2.1 million cases of young people living with HIV, thus setting the country as the second hardest-hit country in the world. One in five Nigerian youth have not tested for HIV and only 24% have full knowledge of HIV transmission. There is an urgent need to change this.
A collaborative effort between Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and several U.S. universities such as the Saint Louis University, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill alongside local Nigerian partners such as the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency, ID Africa and Pinpoint Media, has led to the launch of a For Youth by Youth Campaign (Youth, ) to achieve an AIDS-FREE Generation in Nigeria. The 4YBY is a team of young people, health professionals, activists, and entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, united by a shared passion to advance Nigerian youth participation in HIV prevention. Led by Drs. Ezechi, Iwelunmor and Tucker and a team of youth ambassadors, entrepreneurs and public health advocates, the mission of the 4YBY campaign is to promote Nigerian youth participation in innovation and entrepreneurship that will lead to sustainable solutions for HIV prevention in Nigeria.
Like it or not, young people are the key to ending the AIDS epidemic. They hold answers and solutions to pressing questions such as why young people do not test for HIV or how to promote HIV testing among young people? As a result, to kick-off the 4YBY campaign in Nigeria, a World AIDS Day Contest (December 1ST, 2018) is planned with the goal to generate ideas from Nigerian youth themselves on how to promote HIV self-testing among youth in Nigeria. HIV self-testing (HIVST) is a type HIV testing in which a person collects his or her own specimen (e.g. oral fluid or blood) using a simple rapid HIV test and then performs the test and interpret the result, often in a private setting, either alone or with someone he or she trusts.
It is a discreet, convenient and empowering way test and it has the potential to reach Nigerian youth who may not otherwise test. The 4YBY campaign is centered around Increasing HIV self- testing among at-risk youth in Nigeria, providing other essential HIV prevention services such as testing for other sexually-transmitted infections, while linking those who test positive into care and treatment. Speaking on behalf of the 4YBY campaign, Dr. Iwelunmor said, “our goal is to unleash Nigerian youth’s participation and innovation and creativity in decision making that affects their lives, starting with HIV prevention. We don’t mean to minimize the challenges of addressing health in Nigeria, challenges of which many of us in the health sphere are well aware. But as we shall see with the 4YBY campaign, these challenges also provide opportunities for youth-inspired solutions that are often missing or not given the space to flourish. We believe that Nigerian youth can lead the way with ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat.”
According to Dr. Ezechi, “youth participation in social innovations to promote HIV Self-Testing, can help lay the groundwork not only for a vibrant economy, but for more effective youth friendly health services serving young people themselves. NIMR and our partners are prepared to help Nigerian youth unlock their potential so that we can achieve an AIDS-FREE generation in Nigeria. “
The best ideas come with cash prizes and support for business startups based on the ideas. Entry closes on 25th of November 2018. Top ideas will be announced on December 1st, 2018 (World AIDS Day). For further inquiry, visit 4yby.org and follow us on Instagram: @4youthbyyouth