Education as a Vaccine against AIDS
Fadekemi Akinfaderin is one of the co-founders and current Executive Director of the organization. She received a BA from Wesleyan University, Connecticut for a double-major in Chemistry and Molecular Biology/Biochemistry. She also holds a Masters in Public Health from the Population and Family Health Department at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York. Under her directorship, EVA has increased its geographic spread to include three states in northern Nigeria, in addition to a significant increase in the organization’s donor-based and funding portfolio. Apart from her involvement in EVA, Fadekemi has served in an advisory role and has contributed to the development of HIV/AIDS and adolescent reproductive/sexual health policies in Nigeria and to international organizations. Fadekemi has also worked extensively on the scientific aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in international settings.
Education as a Vaccine against AIDS
The fastest growing rate of HIV infection is amongst youth aged 15 to 25 years. Twenty percent of Nigeria’s 130 million people are young people. It is imperative that youth be targeted because they can increase the overall rate of new infections, are socially and biologically more vulnerable than adults, and can be a force for change.
Education as a Vaccine against AIDS (EVA) is a youth-led non-governmental organization founded in October 2000 by two young Nigerian women with support from the Echoing Green foundation. EVA is one of Nigeria’s leading non-profit organizations based in Abuja, established to provide systems and structures for young people to make responsible decisions about their lives through the provisions of HIV/AIDS and reproductive health information/education, services and advocacy initiatives. The organization has its headquarters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, and two additional offices in Benue and Nassarawa states. The region where EVA concentrates its work has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the country.
The organization was founded on the premise that, given the necessary resources, young people can play a significant role in reversing the tide of the AIDS epidemic.
Following the development of a 5-year strategic plan in 2004, the focus of the organization changed to address the needs of the most marginalized and vulnerable of young persons. Since this period, the organization’s interventions and programs have targeted out-of-school youth in rural areas, young married girls, orphans, street children, young sex workers, physically challenged, migrant/nomadic youth. Since the establishment of the organization 6 years ago, EVA has successfully provided 25,000 youth with HIV/AIDS information and services. Recently, the organization has integrated livelihood development and economic empowerment into its programs as a means of reducing young people’s vulnerability to the epidemic. A particularly successful case study is in the story of Lily Apugo, a 20 year old girl who dropped out of school because of financial hardship.
“I just want you to know how you have helped me. Before this training, l thought nobody cared about me but because of this week, I know there is hope. I have learned so much form the program about my health and how to take care of myself. Although I run a small selling business, it is now that I understand what I have been doing wrong and know that my market will be better. I will be starting the training very soon, for which no one else would have sponsored me, if not for EVA. Thank you so much and God bless you.”