NAIROBI, Kenya – In anticipation of celebrating the 31st World AIDS Day on December 1 this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday launched a social media campaign to raise awareness about HIV and Aids among African youth.
According to the WHO, youth around the world, including those, especially in Africa with no proper health education campaign and treatment options, remain vulnerable to the disease.
WHO 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.
According to a dataset from WHO, an estimated 1.5 million out of the 1.6 million adolescents who are said to be living with HIV globally in 2018 were in the Sub-Saharan African region.
Moeti said that a strong and meaningful investment in youth-friendly reproductive health services is key to revitalize the war against HIV and Aids in Africa.
Africa currently accounts for more than 70 percent of 30 million people living with the disease globally.
According to the UN-AIDS program 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.
The medical officer for HIV/Aids treatment at WHO Regional Office for Africa, Frank Lule said that 4 out of 10 new HIV infections are concentrated in the 15 to 24 years of age bracket on the African continent.
The vulnerabilities of youth to HIV/Aids in Africa are heavily 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,” Lule maintained.
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, Lule continued.
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 are key to reduce HIV infections among the youth.