What business do youth have making HIV and AIDS laws in Nigeria?

BY EVA Nigeria,

June 4, 2014


In Nigeria youth aged 10–24 account for 60% of new HIV infections (United Nations, 2004). As Gloria’s experience highlights, they face significant stigma and discrimination. HIV prevalence among young people age 15–24 is 4.1% which is as high as the national prevalence.1 So it is essential that any policy on HIV and AIDS fully recognises and addresses the needs of young people. This requires engaging young people in the policy-making process to hear their views. However in Nigeria, nearly thirty years of military rule has created a culture in which both old and young believe that they do not have a say in public policy and laws.

Education as a Vaccine (EVA) is a national, non-profit organisation in Nigeria. It aims to strengthen the capacities of children, young people and other stakeholders to facilitate and sustain social change on health and education through direct service delivery and advocacy/policy influencing. Our advocacy work on sexual and reproductive health is coordinated by a group of ten young Nigerians aged 18–24 years who attend school or reside in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

This article highlights how EVA’s Youth Advocacy Group (YAG) managed to participate in and influence the development of Nigeria’s national HIV and AIDS antistigma and discrimination legislation so that it better meets the needs of young people in the country. Using different participatory tools and approaches, the YAG educated other young people about
the impact of HIV and AIDS stigma and encouraged them to take action on the draft HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination 2009. Bill Key lessons learnt about supporting young people’s participation in policymaking
processes are also shared.