The Lagos State Government has called on youths and adolescents living with HIV to utilise social media in disseminating the right information about HIV prevention, treatment and services.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lagos State AIDS Control Agency (LSACA), Dr. Monsurat Adeleke, made the call at a capacity building workshop organised by the agency for people living with HIV.

She said the two-day workshop, which commenced on Tuesday, in Ikeja, is geared towards enrollment for treatment, retention in care and support services to help members of the Association of Positive Youth in Nigeria (APYIN) to attain viral suppression.

The initiative, according to Dr. Adeleke, is a follow-up on an assessment of the AYPIN support groups conducted by the agency in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA).

She disclosed that one of the recommendations from the assessment was to develop a social media platform for access to information and services by youths, stating the need for content creation and design that will improve the uptake of HIV treatment provided by the government.

Her words: “We are in the technology era and the turnaround time of information dissemination through social media has improved the efficiency of service delivery. Participants will be provided with relevant information and resources that would guide them to create content on HIV prevention and treatment services for social media platforms”.

“All of these are geared towards eliminating new HIV infections by 2030, as well as attaining viral suppression and also achieving the 95-95-95 target, which is a comprehensive, rights-based and people-centred HIV response approach”, she added.

The CEO explained further that about 12 per cent of all Persons Living With HIV (PLHIV) in Lagos are between the ages of 15 and 24, age groups below 15 years account for about seven per cent, while about 80 per cent are above the age of 24.

Dr. Adeleke stressed that the training became necessary because the Adolescent Youth Population has been regarded as vulnerable; therefore, there is a need to create access to the right information so they can spread the message among their peers.

While urging the participants to ensure the use of social media platforms as an avenue for spreading the right messages on the virus, the CEO gave an assurance of the government’s commitment to support and empower patients in all social determinants, especially financial support.

In his presentation, a facilitator and the Technical Lead for General Population, Kossy Umeh, stated that the training is targeted at opening the minds of participants to endless opportunities of using social media to reach out to the larger population with the right information on HIV prevention and treatment.

He advised the government to continuously key into public-private-partnerships with the civil society organisations and other support groups in fighting the virus in order to end stigmatisation and discrimination against HIV patients in society.

One of the participants described the workshop as laudable and expressed her commitment to educating her peers on Sexual Reproductive Health and Right (SRHR) as well as HIV prevention and treatment.