Mrs Catherine Yakubu of Kaduna State AIDS Control Agency (KADSACA) said this on Wednesday in Rimin Tsiwa, Igabi Local Government Area of the state during a sensitisation and selection of the Adolescents and Young People (AYP) to be trained for the programme.

Yakubu, the Deputy Director, Prevention, Treatment, Care and Psychology in the agency, explained that eight AYP would be selected from 78 wards of seven local government areas of Chikun, Igabi, Lere, Kagarko, Birnin Gwari, Jaba and Jema’a.

She added that 468 would be trained as HIV services demand creators, six from every ward, while 156 would be trained for HIV counseling and testing, two from each ward.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that UNICEF and the state government had in June launched the AYP implementation plan to curb the prevalence of the virus among young people in the state.

The AYP programme was designed to engage the youths as demand creators for HIV/AIDS services and also serve as HIV counsellors in health centres to make access to services youth-friendly.

According to her, the AYP project is a UNICEF supported programme designed to scale-up HIV combination of prevention, treatment and care services for adolescent and young people.

“This is because only a few of AYP in the state know their HIV status, and 18,000 of such persons are not on treatment.

“The reason is simple; HIV services in our health facilities are not youth-friendly. The youths are not comfortable discussing HIV related issues with elderly people.

“They feel comfortable with their peers and open up more; meaning that we will break more grounds when we engage the youths to sensitise their peers about the virus to increase demand for services.

“More youths would come for counselling and testing when they learn that their peers are in charge.”

UNICEF noted that there was 24 per cent decrease in HIV/AIDS related mortality among adults globally, but with significant increase of 50 per cent deaths among AYP.

The UN body described AYP as people from age 10 to 24, constituting 33 per cent of the state’s estimated population of eight million.

Meanwhile, UNICEF’s National Lead for AYP AIDS Response, Dr Victoria Isirame, urged governments at federal, state and local levels to increase funding for HIV/AIDS response.

Isirame told journalists at the sidelines of a Review for HIV Response in Nigeria in Kaduna that domestic funding had remained a major challenge to HIV response in the country.

“Donors are supporting with funding and expertise, but global funding for HIV is dwindling, and to make a headway in the fight against HIV, government must commit both financial and human resources,” she said.

She, however, noted that a lot had been achieved in terms of supporting government at all levels in ensuring that systems are working.

“This was to ensure that women, children and adolescents have access to combination of preventive intervention, treatment, care and support; and ensuring that mother to child transmission of HIV was eliminated.

“We have done quite a lot because the systems at federal state and local government areas were mobilised, sensitised and strengthened.

“But the government must ensure that primary health care in every ward is working; equipped with facilities and sufficient manpower to provide friendly services,” she said.

She explained that the review was to look at achievement, gaps and challenges in the four-year country programme on HIV/AIDS, which started in 2014 and would end in December 2017.