From the 29th – 30th of November 2016, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) organized a National HIV Prevention Conference, with the theme: Hands on for HIV Prevention. The conference served as a platform for discussions on development of new strategies scaling up the HIV Prevention response nationally. According the Chair of the Organizing Committee and Director of Programs, Akudo Ikpeazu, “The theme and conference shows how Nigeria’s national HIV response aligns with the present global direction of increasing HIV prevention efforts”.
As a key stakeholder in the HIV and AIDS Community, EVA actively participated in the planning and execution of the conference and ensured the issues of adolescents and young people were given prominence in the conference activities. EVA supported the organization of a youth pre-conference, sponsored and facilitated two technical sessions and managed a booth that provided young people with HIV information and commodities. EVA chose to be a part of the conference because as an organization that works with young people, it is nearly impossible to discuss HIV prevention without the inclusion of adolescents and young people. “When we as EVA first heard about this conference, we saw it as a unique opportunity to bring forth issues faced by adolescent and young people bearing in mind that they account majority of the new HIV infections. And even though Nigeria has made some progress in reducing new infections among the young population, it is critical to learn what has worked, so we can scale-up these best practices and get to Zero new infections.”- Fadekemi Akinfaderin-Agarau, Executive Director. The conference presented a unique opportunity to highlight successes, challenges and lessons learnt designing and implementing HIV prevention interventions for Nigeria’s young population.
Sharing lessons was what was done at the technical session titled “Revolutionizing the HIV Prevention Session Through Technology”, which EVA sponsored as part of the main conference. The session brought together stakeholders using or interested in maximizing the potentials of technology for providing HIV prevention services. The panelists were Florida Uzoaru of MerDroits360 (@MerDroits), Victoria Ndoh of UNICEF’s Ureport and Davidson Onuh, EVA’s Tech and Health Program Coordinator. The session was co-chaired by Dabesaki Mac-Ikemenjima of Ford foundation and Ifeanyi Nsofor of Nigeria Health Watch. Each of the presenters shared lessons on using social media and mobile technology for providing information on sexual health issues to young people. Davidson shared EVA’s experience with the My Question service.
EVA formally launched a new technology innovation for adolescents and young people, FRISKY . FRISKY is a mobile sexual health information and communication app that helps adolescents and young people to learn about their bodies, assess their sexual health risks and get insightful advice for healthy sexual behaviors. FRISKY is one of the new technology innovation EVA developed under the Expanding Mobile and Social Networking Solutions for Adolescents and Young People Out of School (EMAPS) project, funded by FORD Foundation, West Africa Office.
“Globally, the goal for the HIV Epidemic is getting to zero new infections and for this young people need to better understand the risk the face in respect to the epidemic. There has been a lot of efforts in raising awareness but we need to move beyond. I feel that using technology to increase understanding of sexual risk especially HIV prevention will push towards this zero mark. This is what EVA, with funding from Ford foundation, is aiming to achieve with the development of these technology tools. With the large turnout of young people at this special session we have been privileged to organize, I am hopeful that the zero mark is achievable through the use of this innovative technology tools” – Davidson Onuh, EVA’s Program Coordinator, Health and Technology.
One hundred and sixty participants attended the session and made provided feedback to the panelist on their technology application including our new application FRISKY. The session was one of the only two sessions in the main conference that highlighted the needs of adolescents and young people. EVA’s participation in the conference was made possible with the support of FORD foundation and UNFPA.
Moving forward, EVA will continue to explore other opportunities of sharing its experiences of improving the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people. FRISKY and two other new sexual health applications, DIVA and Link-UP, are now available for download at the Google store.