The Role Of Young People In HIV Prevention

One of the greatest problems fuelling the spread of HIV, in Nigeria, Africa and most developing countries of the world is ignorance. Many Nigerians, especially the youth, do not have adequate information on
Worse still, young people are not encouraged to seek information on HIV especially from adults who may be judgmental and discriminatory. Therefore, to effectively reduce HIV infection, we need to involve young people as agents of behaviour change to reduce risky sexual behaviours like unprotected sex and having multiple sexual partners. Hence, the role of young people in HIV prevention should be greatly encouraged in such affected countries, like the saying goes "there is no knowledge that is not power".

Role of young people in HIV prevention
There are numerous roles young people can play in the prevention of the spread of HIV, we shall be looking at some of them. Young people can contribute as:

a. Peer educators
b. Peer councillors
c. Change agents
d. Assets to their family and community
e. Providers/Linkages for HIV Counselling & Testing (HCT) and Home-based care

a. Peer educators
Young people, who are trained as peer educators, have developed the skills required to provide accurate information to their peers. Accurate information and not just mere myths and misconceptions is greatly needed to curb the spread of HIV, telling them what they should know based on scientific proofs and backgrounds and not what they think is of great importance. And such information can only be spread by trained peer educators.

c. As Peer Counsellor
Young people, who are trained as counsellors, can assist their peers and community members with counselling when required. They can encourage them to go for HCT (HIV counselling and testing). HCT is the entry point to all HIV prevention and care program, it is after knowing your HIV status you will know the next step and decision to take.

b. Change Agents
An informed youth can be a change agent by providing his/her peers with adequate information on HIV and discouraging risky sexual behaviour. Behavioural change (from bad to good) is the aim, and not just mere sayings without positive actions.

d. As Asset to the Family and Community
An informed youth can serve as an asset to their family and community by educating them about HIV & AIDS. And such family/community will be proud of having an informed youth amidst them.

e. Providers/Linkages for HIV Counselling & Testing (HCT) and Home-based care
A well informed young person can encourage people to go for HCT, as well provide home based care for PLHIV (People living with HIV).

Adolescents and young people constitute a large portion of Nigeria’s population and most countries of the world. They are the most important group in a society and they are a country’s most valuable assets. The period of adolescence is of great consequence in an individual’s life, it should be handled with care. Although young people are one of the most vulnerable groups to HIV infection, they have the potential to act as agents for behaviour change amongst their peers.