By Chux Odoh
In commemoration of World AIDS Day on Saturday, December 1st, 2018, the 4Youth By Youth (4YBY) Group, a team of Nigerian researchers led Dr Oliver Ezechi at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Researchers (NIMR) and scientists at Saint Louis University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, backed by the United States National Institute of Health (NIH), Eunice Shriver National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, recognized the creativity of three young Nigerians, who were among the pool of 903 contestants that proposed smart ideas on the promotion of the HIV/AIDS self-testing amongst Nigerian youths. The event took place at the Police Training College, Ikeja, Lagos.
4YBY identified the adoption of HIV self-testing as an additional way to create demand for HIV testing, thereby increasing knowledge of HIV status and reducing the accelerated spread of HIV/AIDS nationwide among young people in Nigeria. The team coordinated a social media-driven HIV Self-Testing Contest that ran from October 25th to November 25th 2018, in a bid to crowdsource innovative ideas to promote HIV self-testing in Nigeria.
The top three winners, who were revealed at the World AIDS Day event, went home with prizes, cool gadgets, as well as mentorship opportunities from leading business and health professionals. The winners will be trained based on the ideas they have pitched.
Speaking at the World AIDS Day HIV self-testing awareness event, 4Youth By Youth Principal investigator, Dr. Juliet Iwelunmor said, “Our goal is to drive the increased participation of young Nigerians in the fight against HIV/AIDS through generating demand and adoption of self-testing. This we hope to achieve by rewarding innovative and creative ideas that encourage self-testing amongst Nigerian Youth, which will ultimately go a long way in helping to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat.”
The 4YBY Group in collaboration with Lagos AIDS Control Agency (LSACA) had earlier in the day organized a walkathon, which took place before the commencement of the award ceremony. Free condoms were given out, while oral and confirmatory blood-based HIV tests were administered to over 300 attendees by medical practitioners at the event. Over 1000 attendees got a chance to enter a raffle draw to win lots of exciting prizes.
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