One of the prominent Nigerian health researchers, John Alechenu Idoko, called for empowering youth at all levels to lead the efforts towards ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa.
On Monday, 2 December 2019, Prof. Idoko made these remarks during the youth programme activities at the ICASA conference 2019, whose theme is focusing on “AIDS Free Africa.”
While Africa continues to be disproportionately burdened by the AIDS epidemic, researchers argue that a lot of advancements have been made in HIV treatment and vaccine, coverage of ARTs and mother-to-child HIV transmission.
However, Prof. Idoko noted that there is still growing concern of increasing HIV incidences among the youth population between 15 and 24 years.
The latest official estimates by UN agencies show that Africa is far off track in reducing new HIV infections among children and young people and is unlikely to substantially reduce new infections in young people before 2030 due to an anticipated doubling of the adolescent population.
Furthermore, data shows that the population of adolescents and young people aged 15 to 24 living in sub-Saharan Africa will almost likely double by 2050, whereas it will decline or remain stable in every other region of the world.
It said HIV incidence among young women remains high and is estimated to have declined by only three percent a year among young people since 2010.
Although the study found that, overall, new HIV infections will decline by 70 percent in Eastern and Southern Africa by 2050, no country in sub-Saharan Africa can expect to reduce new infections by 95 percent among adolescents and young people by 2030.
The study estimates that only Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Uganda and Zimbabwe will be able to achieve a 95 percent reduction in new infections among adolescents and young people by 2050.
Basing on these trends, Prof Idoko stressed that the time for youth to take action towards ending HIV/AIDS epidemic is now.
Speaking from the same perspective, the Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS, Shannon Hader noted that it is time for hope (for Africa), we know that if the community works with people, there is the power to choose, thrive and have access to services.
“We have the power to learn from each other,” she said.
Official reports show that Africa has currently the youngest population in the world.
An estimated 20 percent of the population, or more than 200 million people in Africa, are young people aged between 15 and 24 years and this number is expected to continue growing, it said.