UNAIDS partnered with Verifie to conduct free HIV & Hepatitis B screenings at the 2ndannual African Youth SDGs Summit from 7th-9thNovember. The African Youth Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Summit is a continental annual gathering of African youth to mobilize and inspire active participation of the youth in the implementation of the SDGs in Africa. This year’s summit was co-hosted by the 2030 Youth Alliance and UNFPA, with support from the Ministry of Planning, the SDG Advisory Unit at the Office of the President, UNDP, UNICEF, UNAIDS and other international and national organizations. Approximately 1,000 young people, policy makers, government officials, UN and AU agencies, private sectors, and the media were in attendance. The theme for the summit was “Partnership with Youth to Achieve the SDGs: Moving from Policy to Actions” where UNAIDS Ghana used this opportunity to shed light on the Sustainable Development Goal 3: “Good Health and well-being” and provided access to HIV testing at the summit.
In the efforts to also raise awareness and to promote this year’s World AIDS Day campaign theme, “Know Your Status”, UNAIDS partnered with Verifie Health Ghana to facilitate free HIV & Hepatitis B testing and counselling services for the summit attendees and launched a social media campaign.
Verifie Health Ghana is an organization comprised of health professionals aimed at sensitizing all sexually active people and people of reproductive age to take charge in safeguarding their sexual health and that of the people around them through their mobile application, Verifie App. To provide HIV and Hepatitis B testing at the summit, Verifie carried out their “Let’s Have a Quickie” project, STI screening that is conducted within ten minutes for young people between the ages of 18 – 35.
A social media campaign was created to enhance the visibility of UNAIDS and Verifie conducting free HIV and Hepatitis B screenings at the African Youth SDG Summit using the hashtags, #KnowYourStatus and #LetsHaveAQuickie. Flyers and photo props were also made available to raise awareness and to encourage youth to know their HIV and Hepatitis B status. Each participant who registered to get tested received a red ribbon to commemorate the World AIDS Day campaign theme: “Know Your Status”. Once registered, participants received pre-testing counselling services where they were educated about HIV and Hepatitis B and the testing process. Participants were then sent to the sampling booths to get their blood samples taken and asked to wait 10-15 minutes for test results. When results were ready, each participant was called to a booth to have their results disclosed and to receive post-test counselling.
At the completion of the 3-day African Youth SDGs Summit, 380 young people between the ages of 16 and 42 were screened. While majority of the participants of the screening exercise were citizens of Ghana, forty-five participants originated from other African countries (Nigeria, Liberia, Kenya, South Africa, Benin, Tanzania, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mali, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Togo). A social media buzz was also created from the #KnowYourStatus and #LetsHaveAQuickie media campaign; the campaign earned over 12,000 twitter impressions with 188 likes and 106 retweets over the five-day period of launching the campaign promoting the importance of knowing your HIV status as a young person.
“I will encourage everyone to get tested, once you know whether you are positive or negative then you know how to live your life. So get tested!” – African Youth SDGs Summit Attendee