Calabar, Cross River State – Wise up. Play Safe. Use a Condom; was the resonating message of the wise up campaign in Calabar, Cross River State. The campaign is part of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, response to convey sexual and reproductive health information to young people. The 30-day campaign was done alongside Africa’s biggest street party – the Calabar Carnival.
To safe guard every young person from making wrong choices about the sexual and reproductive health, requires that they have the right information. However, research shows that the majority of adolescents and young people lack the knowledge required to make these life-changing decisions responsibly, leaving them vulnerable to coercion, sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies.
In Nigeria, the limited knowledge of comprehensive sexuality education is reflected in the health indices of young people. For example, according to the 2013 National Health Demographic Survey, 17% of young people do not know about contraceptive methods. This explains the corresponding indices of teenage pregnancy rate at 23%. Condoms as a contraceptive, is one of the most effective ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and AIDS. Yet, only 4 in 10 young women know where to get condoms and 3 in every 10 have ever been tested for HIV. In addition, there is a very low knowledge base of HIV and how it is transmitted amongst young people with only 24% of young women and 34% of young men having a comprehensive knowledge of HIV.
The Wise up campaign was a platform for young people to get educated on their reproductive health, to know their HIV status and to access condoms. At the end of the campaign, over 5,000 people were reached with HIV testing and counseling services, 222, 023 condoms were distributed and awareness was created on how to refrain from contracting HIV/AIDS by encouraging young people to adhere to the 3 rules of abstinence, faithfulness or using a condom.