By Olayinka Latona
For Nigeria to achieve the goal of universal access to HIV and AIDS treatmentÂ Federal government must first involve the youths in policy making and invest more in the health sector while focusing on the grassroots.
National Director, Reproductive Health and AIDS, Nigeria Medical Student Association observed during a public lecture to commemorate the 2009 World AIDS Day in Agege Local Government that for the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS to reduce, more effort had to be made in terms ofÂ treatment, prevention and care as these factors are fundamental human rights.
â€œThe protection of human rights is fundamental to combat the globalÂ HIV and AIDS epidemic. Violations against human rights only increases the spread of HIV, putting marginalised groups at higher risk ofÂ infection.
â€œBut by promoting individual human rights, new infections can be prevented andÂ people who have HIV can live free from discrimination.
Dr. OlatounÂ Adeola, Regional MedicalÂ Officer of the Institute ofÂ Human Virology, Nigeria South WestÂ Region, who was guest speaker at the public lecture lamented that in low and middle-income countries, less than half of those in need of antiretroviral therapy are receiving it, and , many do not have access to adequateÂ health care services.
Vice President, External Affairs,Â NiMSA, Steve Awolaru acknowledged that governmentÂ policies on HIV and AIDS prevention, care, support and rights, gave little concern to youths and noted that the National Youth Agenda of 2004 intentionally excluded Sexual Reproductive Health services (SRH) and HIV and AIDS issues.
He also said youths affected and infected by HIV and AIDS, were not involved in the policy making process.