As the 31st World AIDS Day approaches on December 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday launched a social media campaign to raise awareness about HIV and Aids among African youth amid their vulnerability to the disease, Xinhua reports.
Senior officials said the campaign dubbed #TheTeaOnHIV aims to reach out to one million adolescents and youth in Africa with information on how they can prevent themselves from contracting HIV and how to live positively with it.
This social media campaign aims to equip young Africans with the right information to start breaking the barriers that prevent them from getting support," said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Nearly 1.5 million out of the 1.6 million adolescents living with HIV globally by 2018 were in the Sub-Saharan African region, according to the data from WHO.
Moeti said that investment in youth-friendly reproductive health services are key to revitalize war against HIV and Aids in Africa that accounts for more than 70 percent of 30 million people living with the disease globally.
According to the UNAIDS data, only one in three young people globally has comprehensive knowledge about HIV and seven out of 10 young women(aged 15-24 years) in sub-Saharan Africa do not have comprehensive knowledge about HIV.
Frank Lule, medical officer HIV/Aids treatment at WHO Regional Office for Africa, said that 4 out of 10 new HIV infections are concentrated in the 15 to 24 years age bracket in the continent thanks to vulnerabilities linked to poverty and limited information about the disease.
There has been inadequate awareness about HIV and Aids among adolescents and youth in this region and the new campaign will ensure they have access to knowledge on prevention and management of the disease," said Lule.
He said that the social media-fueled HIV and Aids awareness campaign will provide a platform for African youth to share knowledge, experience and best practices geared towards the elimination of the disease by 2030.
Catherine Ngugi, head of programs at Kenya's National Aids and STIs Control Program (NASCOP), said that robust interventions that include awareness campaigns and economic empowerment is key to reduce HIV infections among the youth.
We need to look at the other drivers of higher infections among the youth that include lack of access to education, quality health care and jobs," said Ngugi.
She said that Kenya has developed youth-friendly HIV and Aids interventions as government data indicate that this demographic accounted for more than 51 percent of new infections in the recent past.
Doreen Moraa, a 27-year-old Kenyan campaigner living with HIV, said that leveraging on social media platforms is key to influence behavior change among youth at risk of contracting the Aids virus.
On my Facebook page, I have declared: I am HIV-positive. I am not sick. I am not sad. I am not dying. I am just a fabulous host to a tiny virus." said Moraa in Nairobi.
Source: Kazinform News Agency
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