Omotayo Tewa, a youth assistant at AHI, participated in a Media Exchange Platform organized by Population Council Nigeria last week. Here is a recap of her experience:
Engaging young people in the AIDS response in Nigeria is important because of the vulnerability of the age group. Adolescents and Young People (AYP) age 10 – 24 make up about 31 percent of Nigeria’s population. During the media exchange event, Dr Obianwu Otibho of population council pointed out some factors contributing to youth vulnerabilities to HIV infection. They are:
• Low comprehensive knowledge about sex education
• Early exposure to unsafe sex
• Culture of silence
• Low perception among youths etc.
She also mentioned factors affecting AYP health seeking behaviour, such as:
• Societal stigma
• Negative attitude of health providers
• Non use of condoms
• Limited access to sexual and reproductive health information etc.
To address these challenges, the evidence-base recommendations proposed by population council’s researchers are:
• Engaging young people in the planning and evaluation of youth focused HIV and SRH programmes and services.
• Provide legislation policies that respect young people’s human right.
• Establish strong child and social protection to prevent sexual abuse etc.
Meanwhile, in another session, a media researcher shared his survey findings on Nigerian media coverage of youth sexual reproductive health and HIV related issues. Mr. Wale Fatade revealed that out of the 746 SRH issues published in 2012, only 50 reports focused on AYP (adolescent and young people). This made journalists present at the meeting give reasons for the low stories that were published on SRH issues.
They mentioned that:
• Editors don’t allow them publish some SRH related stories
• Some words related to SRH (vaginal, sex etc.) aren’t allowed to be used in the newspaper.
During the question and answer session, some of the youth participants present suggested that journalists should embrace the social network sites to pass more information about SRH issues because most youths don’t have interest in reading newspaper. They also stated that the language and headlines used should be of interest to the youth.
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