AIDS/ AHF Nigeria Sex Education
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)

AHF: CSE Will Curb Spike In HIV, STIs Among Youths

According to the Federal Government (FG), the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Nigeria, and other stakeholders, the deployment of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) will help in reducing the ever increasing rate of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), HIV as well as unplanned pregnancies among youths.

Daily Independent gathered that the ‘agreement’ which was a fallout of a Focus Group Discussion (FGD), organized by AHF Nigeria to commemorate the 2024 International Day of the African Child (IDAC) would also lead to a drastic reduction in new cases of HIV and STIs.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government (FG) has stated it’s preparedness to partner with AHF to strengthen CSE to enhance health outcomes and for the organization to also deliver on its programmes as a means of checking other vices associated with children.

The Assistant Director, Child Development, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs Mariam Shu’aibu, said “Issues on child marriage and HIV are issues that the ministry is advocating against and we are ready to collaborate with AHF to deliver your programmes in the FCT and other states” of the federation.

On her part, the Director of Policy, Advocacy and Marketing, AHF Africa Bureau, Kemi Gbadamosi, said CSE would address the ever increasing rates of new infections of HIV, STIs and unplanned pregnancies amongst youths.

She explained that “We are looking at fostering education and health through CSE and the reason is because as a HIV/AIDS organisation, we see that there are new infection rates amongst young people every week.

“For example we get 4,000 HIV new infection globally amongst young people age 15 to 24. and Africa takes the biggest chunk of that.

“And part of the reason we see this spike in infection rates amongst young people is lack of access to the right information, sexual reproductive health services, information and tools like CSE.

“Research tells us that access to age appropriate CSE helps to reduce HIV infections, teenage pregnancies, delay when young people begin to have sex and reduce cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and promote gender equality.”

Furthermore, the Director, argued that “Contrary to popular opinions, a lot of parents and leaders say CSE promote promiscuity but research tells us that when young people have access to age appropriate CSE, it stops them from being promiscuous.

“It (CSE) protects them, builds their self esteem and are able to make better decisions and more informed choices. And also (helps the youths) to recognize when issues of violence and sexual harassment is about to happen so that they can protect themselves.

“That is why engagement such as this requires parents in the discussion to know the benefits. We have always got a pushback from parents and community leaders because they believe that whenever you say sexuality education, you are talking about sex.

“We also need to tell them what the data is showing us on HIV infection rates; young people getting pregnant, more STI cases. And if we do not address the information, skill and knowledge gap, then we cannot make any progress”, Gbadamosi stated.

Also speaking at the event, the Country Programme Director, AHF Nigeria, Dr Echey Ijezie, pointed out that “It is important to discuss CSE because research has shown that CSE improve health outcomes, empower youths and adolescents, so that they can make informed choices and not contract HIV and other STIs, as well as reducing the risks of unwanted pregnancies.”

Mrs Maria Okhilua, Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, who represented the Secretary FCT Education Board, reiterated the commitment of the Board, towards promoting health outcomes and working towards the reduction of STIs among youths.

While she argued that youths may have access to wrong information on social media, she stated the need to take the Advocacy to teachers and other policy makers.

Okhilua said, “The first sets of people you need to talk to are the teachers, policy makers, the supervisory bodies if these things must get to the schools and make headway. Then, we begin to see how we can structure these information for understanding so that it is not destructive.”

Other contributors to the discussion, including the Assistant Director, Education Support Department, Federal Ministry of Information, Njideka Ogbuke and Isabel Anani, of Stand with Girl Initiative said youths who are equipped with CSE, find it repulsive when faced with wrong information, pornography and other negative materials on the internet.

They also advised young people not be pressured by their peers to do negative things, adding that at all times, youths should have inner dialogue and evaluate their priorities before taking a decision.

Involved in the event were government agencies, NGOs, youths groups, parents and schools. The highlight of the event was on sexual and reproductive health education.

SOURCE: Daily Independent