Wednesday, December 8, 2010
“IMPACT OF THE MEDIA IN PROMOTING POSITIVE BEHAVIOUR AROUND HIV/AIDS AMONG YOUTHS IN NIGERIA”.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was first discovered in Nigeria in 1986. Since then, the number of cases has been on a dramatic increase. In 2003, it was estimated that about 2.3 to 3.9 million persons were living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (Federal Ministry of Health 2005). Health and political leaders in Nigeria are increasingly conscious that HIV/AIDS if not mitigated will have negative implications on National development because the youths, the productive human resource, are most affected.
Youths are the stakeholders in the future of every society. To be able to live up to the responsibility, they must be empowered with basic life skills of which include being media literate. Media literacy is the ability to process information that is reliable and useful to their well-being and the well being of others. The 21st century youth in Nigeria must have the competent ability to access and interpret messages from various forms of media. It is such literacy that will enable the media effectively permeate the society and positively influence the behavior of youths around HIV/AIDS.
Thus, this essay, which is a response to the call for entry in the 1st Omololu Falobi Foundation Essay Competition, theme “Impact of the Media in Promoting Positive Behavior around HIV/AIDS among youths in Nigeria” seeks to present a discourse around media education as an effective tool that encourages HIV prevention, promote safer lifestyle choices and fight the stigma and discrimination among youths. To achieve the above objective, it is pertinent to discuss the key topics: HIV/AIDS and young people, the role of the media in curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS, its limitations, Media education as a tool to enhance positive behavior among youths in Nigeria and suggest the way forward.
HIV/AIDS AND YOUNG PEOPLE
An estimated 11.8 million youths were living with the HIV/AIDS globally at the end of 2001- 7.3 million young women and 4.5 young men (UNAIDS report on HIV/AIDS and young people). Based on the 2001 National HIV/Syphilis seroprevalence survey conducted by the Federal Military of Health and the Futures Group Aim model, HIV population in Nigeria is 4,012, 438 with 184, 246 new AIDS cases (Nigeria-aids.org September 13, 2007 report). At the crux of this infection are Nigerian youths, accounting for over 50% of this daily toll.
The factors that place youths at risk of being infected with HIV stem from different socio-economic and cultural conditions they live in such as poverty, poor educations, unemployment, social isolation etc. Majority of these youths live with the virus and do not know while others do no have access to accurate information on how to protect themselves and others. Often, the subject is treated among youths with suspicion, the little information at their disposal most times turn out to be inaccurate. People living with HIV face stigma and discrimination as these youths try to deal with their fears about the virus by ridiculing those infected. Others deny the existence of HIV and thus embrace a fearful silence; all these constitute a negative attitude that encourages the spread of HIV among youths.
In the absence of any known scientific cure, to manage the spread of HIV, youth friendly Education resources can help create awareness to promote attitude change. Phyllis Kanki, Director, AIDS preventions Initiative in Nigeria (APIN) in his contribution to the book “HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa” noted that the media have been identified as an important tool in health intervention programmes. Through the media, the silence, spiral of denial, ignorance, stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS can be mitigated to promote a positive behavior change among youths.
Read the complete Essay: “IMPACT OF THE MEDIA IN PROMOTING POSITIVE BEHAVIOUR AROUND HIV/AIDS AMONG YOUTHS IN NIGERIA”