The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said on Thursday that Nigeria needs an integrated approach to address the issues of HIV and AIDs among its population.
Ms Mariama Darboe, Head of Office, UNFPA Decentralised Office for Northern Nigeria, stated this in an interview in Kaduna.
Darboa stressed the need to integrate HIV response into sexual reproductive healthcare and holistic population education, stressing that in the absence of cure, prevention was crucial to ending the scourge.
She explained that HIV transmission can be reduced through addressing the sexual and reproductive health and rights of key populations; women, girls and young people.
She said that UNFPA was working with the federal and state governments at the policy level, to scale up age-appropriate and culturally sensitive comprehensive sexual education.
She pointed out that talking about sex education in schools could mean promoting promiscuity, hence the need to talk about population education.
“Right now, to talk about sex is a taboo in our cultures, and because it is taboo you cannot talk about it, it is hurting everybody else.
“Your parents won’t talk to you about it, schools won’t talk about it and adolescents were left to go blindly.
“Because when you talk about sexual education in school, people think you are trying to promote promiscuity.
“This is why we are trying to promote comprehensive population education at the policy level that talk about your body, your sexuality, your self-confidence, your integrity issues, and moral issues, among other things,” she said.
She said that HIV was a consequence of something that went wrong, adding that controlling certain behaviours would significantly prevent it.
“It is when you do not have a good understanding, a good control of who you are and how you manage your sexuality that this HIV and other things comes in. Stop the problem before it starts,” she said.
The head of office noted that it was good to do sensitisation about HIV and AIDS, adding that it was also important for people to know how to manage their sexuality.
According to her, people get into trouble because they do not have a good control of their own sexuality.
“Sexuality is also part of something that you should be able to control and manage and this can be achieved through comprehensive and holistic population education about reproductive health.
“This will ensure that everyone builds his or her capabilities and shapes their future, through eliminating barriers faced by countless young people.
“These barriers include child marriage and adolescent pregnancy, loss of schooling, poor sexual and reproductive health education and lack of control over their own bodies”.