An NGO, AVAC 2019 Fellowship, has stressed the need to integrate Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) education in the school curriculum to enable adolescents access available services.
Mr David Ita, AVAC fellow for the organisation, said this in Abuja at a round-table on integrating SRH education in the school curriculum and age of consent to access SRH.
The conference was organised by the New HIV and Vaccine Microbicides Advocacy Society in collaboration with GADO Agency LTD Nigeria and AVAC 2019 Fellowship.
The AVAC 2019 fellowship programme is a community centered advocacy programme focused on empowering adolescents and young persons through training and mentorship to make significant changes in communities.
The organisation also creates awareness on Sexual Reproductive Health and Right(SRHR) while addressing HIV prevention needs of community members.
Ita said that the organisation also worked with policy makers in Lagos State and Federal Capital Territory to create a path way to reduce age of consent for adolescent’s use of SRH services without parental consent.
According to him, the HIV prevalence in Nigeria is stabilising but new HIV infections continue to rise among adolescents and young people.
He said beyond HIV and AIDS, adolescents and young persons had the greatest concerns and needs of preventing unwanted pregnancy.
”This is of high priority to them because of its visible negative impact and associated stigma in the community.
”Women are (most) affected by both pregnancy and HIV infection. It is therefore important to reach out to adolescents and young persons to address both the HIV needs…,’’ he said.
Ita said that the organisation would create awareness on the adolescent sexual and reproductive health needs, rights and independent access to HIV and sexual reproductive health services among health care providers, advocates and adolescents.
” There will be improved adolescents access to HIV tests and their negotiation skills for condom use, prevention of unwanted pregnancy and their awareness and demand for PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) and Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) .
”AIDS is the leading cause of death among young people (aged 10-24) in Africa, and second leading cause globally
“Young women are twice as likely to acquire HIV as young men.
”A youth bulge in Africa threatens to increase new HIV infections further; unprotected sex is the most common route of HIV infection among young people.
”Low HIV and sexual health knowledge is a key barrier to reducing HIV infections among young people.
”A ‘life-cycle’ approach to HIV prevention can help respond to the changing challenges people face at different ages,” he said.
Ita said that there was an absence of youth friendly services to address the needs of young people as very few centres existed in the country. Bengbenronews