The Nasarawa State AIDS Control Agency (NASACA) has identified early sex initiation as one of the factors increasing vulnerability of HIV/AIDS among Adolescent and Young Persons (AYP) in the state.
The Executive Director of the agency, Dr Ruth Adabe, said this on Thursday in Keffi while presenting an overview of PMTCT and AYP of the state at a two-day meeting with media chief executives, reporters and producers in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting is co-organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Kaduna Field Office, and the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
Adabe, who was represented by Dr Peter Attah, the state’s HIV/AIDS and STIs Control Programme Officer, also identified early child marriage among girls, low and lack of knowledge and appropriate counselling as factors responsible for increasing the vulnerability of the scourge among the AYPs in the state.
According to her, the agency had noted that early child marriage among girls as young as 15 years give birth to their first child before 18 in some communities in the state.
She also identified youthful exuberance as playing a significant role in the rise of HIV/AIDS vulnerability among youths.
“Low and lack of knowledge and the youthful exuberance also plays role in increasing HIV vulnerability in adolescents and young people.
“Inter-generational relationships are also common as a driver for the spread of HIV, Adabe said.
She added that the mode of transmission of HIV in adolescents and young people are in two ways, viz:
“Vertical Transmission: According to an estimate, globally, about 90% of HIV positive adolescents acquire the infection perinatally. In Nigeria, vertical transmission of HIV is the second most common mode of transmission of HIV after sexual intercourse.
“Despite the contribution of perinatal infection to the incidence of HIV infection in adolescents and young people, it is seldom studied by the scholarly community and its impact remains unknown.
“Horizontal/Sexual Transmission: Sexual transmission of HIV is the most common route of HIV transmission in young people. It accounts for about 50% of the 35.3 million under 25 young persons living with HIV.’’
While calling on youths and other Nigerians to always know their HIV status in the interest of their health and for the overall development of the country, the executive scribe pointed out that only few AYP test for HIV regularly.
Earlier, Mr Rabiu Musa, the Communication Officer of UNICEF, Kaduna Filed Office, explained that the aimed of the meeting was to provide knowledge/orientation to the participants on PMTCT, AYP and HIV/AIDS situation so as to tackle the menace in the country.
NAN also reports that commitments are expected from the various media representatives on how to scale up public awareness on the dangers of HIV/AIDS and prevention measures.