222,023 Condoms distributed by UNFPA Nigeria during the 2016 Calabar Carnival as crowd demands for more. #WiseUpCRS A Visual Diary by Gabriel ADEYEMO

HIV/AIDS remains a global crisis with major public health concerns and one of the leading cause of death in many parts of the world especially Africa. Nigeria, being the second highest globally in new infections annually and according to UNAIDS, sexual transmissions account for over 70% of all new HIV infection.

During the annual Calabar carnival, which lasted all through December 2016, the UNFPA Nigeria’s newly launched “Wise Up Cross River” campaign responded to the sexual and reproductive health gaps observed amongst young people in Nigeria, most especially in Calabar.

The motivating notion of “Wise Up” is that young people need to be ‘smarter’ in a world of HIV with their sexuality. It also necessitates the need to be ‘mindful’ or ‘vigilant’ to the challenges of HIV/STIs, unwanted pregnancy, etc in the country. Youths have lots of potentials to help them navigate their world and be free from STIs, sexual vices, etc, if they have the right information and tools. ‘Wise Up’ is also a wakeup call to young people to contribute meaningfully in the HIV response through behavioral change communication and appropriate demand for reproductive health commodities and services.

Among the objectives of the ‘Wise Up’ campaign were; To increase the proportion of adolescent and youth with comprehensive knowledge of HIV; To increase the proportion of young people who tested for HIV and knows their status; To increase the proportion of young people who consistently use a condom with regular or non-regular partners; and To reduce the proportion of youths who have more than one sexual partner.

The campaign used creative approaches and technologies such as Music, Dance, Social Media, Radio, and Interpersonal Communication to drive the needed awareness and access to reproductive health information, commodities and services.

At the end of the carnival, a total of 222,023 condoms were distributed (219,739 male condoms & 2,284 female condoms).

A total of 5,739 persons were also reached with HIV testing and counseling services.

"...before the WiseUpCRS campaign, i am usually scared of doing an HIV test. But with the help of a volunteer through interpersonal communication and her friendliness, i did an HIV test and collected my result" - Houston Ojisor (Calabar carnival participant).

Innovatively, young people were empowered through active participation; owning the entire WiseUp campaign as peer educators (170 persons trained on interpersonal communication skills), HIV counselors, testers and mobilizers, condoms promoters, monitoring and evaluation officers, media influencers, etc.

A quick & notable impact of the #WiseUpCRS campaign was the removal of different barriers to accessing health facilities by young people. Hence, a healthcare provider is linked with a young client. Also, with the support of all stakeholders, associated stigmas to condoms were reduced and HIV testing was promoted.

"...I felt good coordinating the local hubs of #WiseUpCRS media because I had to work with people from different media organization and I learnt a whole lot from the experience. I had a lot of followers in a short period as a result. It gives me great joy that the WiseUp campaign reached a lot of people in Cross River State and beyond" - Didi Etta (Media Crew)

The impact of Wise Up campaign is enormous. The #WiseUpCRS hashtag trended after approximately 400 mentions for fifteen glorious hours and reached over 250K twitter users and had over 4 million impressions, with 1168 use of the hashtag.

Programme Coordinator & Head of Cross River Sub Office UNFPA Nigeria; Mr. Keneth Ehouzou presenting an award to a Volunteer

The Wise Up Campaign initiative is expected to be a continuous advocacy that will bring about positive acquisition of knowledge, change in behaviors and demand/utilization of sexual and reproductive health commodities and services by adolescents and young people.

To read more about the UNFPA Nigeria’s messages at the Calabar Carnival, follow us on twitter; @UNFPANigeria & #WiseUpCRS

Writer/Editor; Gabriel Adeyemo ; twitter & instagram @vinnydrey; Facebook: Gabriel Adeyemo Oludrey

Photographer: Ndubuisi Nsoedo ; instagram; @n.ndubuisi

Created By
Gabriel Adeyemo
Appreciate

Credits:

UNFPA Nigeria; @UNFPANigeria

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