A new year. A new list of goals. A new set of opportunities. A fresh mindset. An open heart. A focused mind.
We are hopeful, grateful, and ready for what’s to come this year.
The new year is the ideal time for reflection. The past two years have been life changing. Life changing in the way that the pandemic has opened our eyes to systemic issues we have continually shoved under the rug, it has disrupted our daily lives–our norm–and honestly, it has simply exhausted us. Beginning 2021, we imagined our restored livelihood, but we soon realized that the COVID-19 virus wasn’t quite finished teaching us a lesson.
Through all that happened in 2021, 4 Youth By Youth (4YBY) prevailed. We were persistent. We continued. We stood strong. We spent another year adapting, learning, and recreating new ways to do our usual work. Every partner, researcher, medical personnel, and youth worked together to continue to advance the agenda of health for Nigerian youth. It was not always easy, but it was possible and well worth the challenge. The perseverance in working towards the mission of 4YBY was especially seen through our meetings, crowdsourcing contests, youth series, and in the results from conference presentations and peer-reviewed publications.
We are extremely delighted with our many accomplishments in 2021:
In February, our research project manager, Chisom Obiezu-Umeh led the youth discussion at the PATC3H annual meeting on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, with her presentation titled “Youth Voice and Leadership to Enhance the Success of PATC3H Projects. To actively engage and support young people as leaders in HIV Prevention and Treatment across the continuum to achieve an AIDS-free generation, Chisom highlighted that the focus should be on three participatory practices: 1) working for youth as beneficiaries, 2) engaging with youth as partners, and 3) supporting youth as leaders. Chisom also created discussion prompts for the participants to think about the facilitators, barriers, and opportunities of youth as leaders in the HIV program in their communities. The February youth PATC3H session was very successful and gave an opportunity for us to learn from and connect with today’s youth.
In June, we began a Youth Series in which we interviewed our own 4YBY youth and shared their narratives of youth engagement. In these interviews, our youth described their journey through 4YBY and the impact 4YBY has had on their lives. We featured three youth:
- Ojo Victor Oluwaseun, former participant in the 2019 4YBY Designathon, current supervisor of our nationwide study (4YBY RCT implementation), and co-founder of FavouriteDoctor (a telemedicine service that connects patients to registered medical professionals through WhatsApp)
- Dr. Chieyine Nelson, former participant in the 2019 4YBY Designathon, current medical doctor, co-founder of the Bili App (a social media app that allows people to create and join artistic challenges or trends) and Privi Test (a platform that offers young people the opportunity to anonymously test for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases)
- Ponmile Ogunjemite, former participant in the 2019 4YBY Designathon, current Business Development Manager and System Analyst at Fountain Payment Systems and Solutions, and co-founder of FavouriteDoctor
These three youths have indeed accomplished so much over the years. We are always proud of our youth and blessed beyond measure with them, as we are grateful that Victor, Nelson, and Ponmile shared their stories with us. We hope we, 4YBY, continue to help pave the way for Nigerian youth and assist them in reaching their full potential.
Throughout the year, we also held three crowdsourcing contests.
- Our first crowdsourcing contest ran from December 14, 2020, to January 31, 2021, and was supported by Adolescent HIV Prevention and Treatment Implementation Science Alliance (AHISA). The open call question asked, “Have you been involved in making a difference among youth in Africa?” Our contest had four finalists:
- Carine Oum
- Mandi Tembo
- Nicola Willis
- Takhona Hlatshwako
Our finalists’ presented us with their diverse, innovative, and youth-engaged research presentations to narrate the impact their research has had on communities and populations in Africa. We appreciate all who participated and thank AHISA for our collaboration and our finalists for providing us with advanced and creative adolescent-engaging and HIV-focused research in Africa. Please read more about the AHISA open call here.
- Our second crowdsourcing open call was the VOICE: HIV Open Call on Informed Consent and Ethics in Research which was organized by The Adolescent Bioethics Working Group of the PATC3H Consortium. The VOICE open call solicited responses to the question, “How can we enhance young people’s consent to HIV research?” to identify potential solutions to the challenges with obtaining young people’s consent to HIV research participation in LMICs. We received 110 responses. The submissions to this open call are being used to design a practical guide for enhancing youth consent to HIV research participation that can be used by a wide range of stakeholders in resource-constrained settings, including HIV researchers, policymakers, and youth HIV advocates.
- Please read more about the VOICE open call here.
- Our final crowdsourcing contest was our World AIDS Day contest. On December 1, 2021, we held our third World AIDS Day (WAD) contest which was our second virtual WAD contest. Our crowdsourcing open call was launched on November 1st and ran through November 26th. We asked, “How might we design services or programs that promote PrEP awareness and use among youth in Nigeria?” We received 151 submissions overall of which 89 were eligible entries. Nineteen youth pitched their ideas and 4 finalists were selected and announced during the live, virtual contest on WAD.
- 1st place winner: Idris Oladosu
- 2nd place winners: Ridwan Ajibade & Babatunde Abdulhammed
- 3rd place winner: George Adjete
We want to once again thank all participants who submitted their ideas and the finalists who were able to pitch their ideas to the judges. We also congratulate our winners on their innovative and unique solutions to help promote PrEP awareness and use among Nigerian youth.
Finally, we participated in and presented at annual conferences and wrote many manuscripts of which several were accepted for publication.
- “Walking a mile in young people’s shoes: A designathon to promote uptake of youth-friendly health services for Nigerian youth”: poster presentation at the 12th Annual CUGH Conference
- “The 4 Youth by Youth Project: Pilot findings from a feasibility trial of youth-designed HIV self-testing and STI services”: poster presentation at the 12th Annual CUGH Conference
- “I am a Stakeholder who counts’- Youth-led strategies for Linkage to Prevention and Care post-HIV Self-testing”: poster presentation at the 12th Annual CUGH Conference
- “A qualitative study to explore message framing to promote HIV self-testing among youth in Nigeria”: poster presentation (nominated for the Lancet Student Global Health Poster Awards) at the 12th Annual CUGH Conference
- “Engaging Youth as Agents for Change in Promoting HIV self-testing in Nigeria: A Qualitative Study”: poster presentation at the SOPHE 2021dX Annual Conference
- “Understanding factors that promote uptake of HIV self-testing among young people in Nigeria: Framing youth narratives using the PEN-3 cultural model”: poster presentation at the SOPHE 2021dX Annual Conference
- “Rethinking HIV self-testing promotion for young people within the context of youth-inspired narratives: implications for HIVST scale-up”: oral presentation at the SOPHE 2021dX Annual Conference
- “Crowdsourcing to enhance HIV testing”: oral presentation at the 11th IAS Conference on HIV Science 2021
- “Expanding youth-friendly HIV self-testing services during COVID: a qualitative analysis of a crowdsourcing contest in Nigeria”: poster presentation at the 11th IAS Conference on HIV Science 2021
- “A novel participatory learning collaborative approach to expand STI services for Nigerian youth”: poster presentation at the 11th IAS Conference on HIV Science 2021
- “Measuring Youth Engagement in African HIV Research: A Mixed Methods Analysis of a Crowdsourcing Open Call”: poster presentation at the 11th IAS Conference on HIV Science 2021
- “The arc of youth narratives with promoting HIVST overtime: Findings from the 4 Youth by Youth annual world AIDS day contest”: poster presentation at APHA’s 2021 Annual Meeting and Expo
- “Designing HIV testing and self-testing services for young people in Nigeria: A discrete choice experiment”: oral presentation (outstanding presentation nomination) at STI & HIV 2021 World Congress
- “Youth led implementation strategies to promote HIV self-testing in Nigeria with ERIC compilation”: poster presentation at the 2021 Science of D&I Conference
- “Enhancing HIV self-testing among nigerian youth: Feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a quasi-experimental study using crowdsourced youth-led strategies”: poster presentation at the 2021 Science of D&I Conference
- “Engaging youth to led participatory learning community for HIV services: Example from the 4Youth by youth intervention in Nigeria”: poster presentation at the 2021 Science of D&I Conference
- Obiezu-Umeh C, Gbajabiamila T, Ezechi O, Nwaozuru U, Ong JJ, Idigbe I, Oladele D, Musa AZ, Airhihenbuwa C, Tucker JD, Iwelunmor J. Young people’s preferences for HIV self-testing services in Nigeria: a qualitative analysis. BMC public health. 2021 Dec;21(1):1-9.
- Iwelunmor J, Tucker JD, Obiezu-Umeh C, Gbaja-Biamila T, Oladele D, Nwaozuru U, Musa AZ, Airhihenbuwa CO, Muessig K, Rosenberg N, BeLue R. The 4 Youth by Youth (4YBY) pragmatic trial to enhance HIV self-testing uptake and sustainability: Study protocol in Nigeria. Contemporary clinical trials. 2021 Nov 17:106628.
- Tucker JD, Iwelunmor J, Abrams E, Donenberg G, Wilson EC, Blachman-Demner D, Laimon L, Taiwo BO, Kuhns LM, John-Stewart GC, Kohler P. Accelerating adolescent HIV research in low-income and middle-income countries: evidence from a research consortium. AIDS. 2021 Dec 1;35(15):2503-11.
- Asuquo SE, Tahlil KM, Muessig KE, Conserve DF, Igbokwe MA, Chima KP, Nwanunu EC, Elijah LP, Day S, Rosenberg NE, Ong JJ. Youth engagement in HIV prevention intervention research in sub‐Saharan Africa: a scoping review. Journal of the International AIDS Society. 2021 Feb;24(2):e25666.
- Oladele D, Iwelunmor J, Gbajabiamila T, Obiezu-Umeh C, Okwuzu JO, Nwaozuru U, Musa AZ, Idigbe I, Tahlil K, Tang W, Conserve DF. The 4 Youth By Youth mHealth Photo Verification App for HIV Self-testing in Nigeria: Qualitative Analysis of User Experiences. JMIR Formative Research. 2021 Nov 17;5(11):e25824.
- Ong JJ, Nwaozuru U, Obiezu-Umeh C, Airhihenbuwa C, Xian H, Terris-Prestholt F, Gbajabiamila T, Musa AZ, Oladele D, Idigbe I, David A. Designing HIV Testing and Self-Testing Services for Young People in Nigeria: A Discrete Choice Experiment. The Patient-Patient-Centered Outcomes Research. 2021 May 4:1-2.
- Nwaozuru U, Tahlil KM, Obiezu-Umeh C, Gbaja-Biamila T, Asuquo SE, Idigbe I, BeLue R, Oladele D, Muessig KE, Rosenberg NE, Ong JJ. Tailoring youth-friendly health services in Nigeria: a mixed-methods analysis of a designathon approach. Global health action. 2021 Jan 1;14(1):1985761.
- Tahlil KM, Obiezu-Umeh C, Gbajabiamila T, Nwaozuru U, Oladele D, Musa AZ, Idigbe I, Okwuzu J, David AN, Bamidele TA, Airhihenbuwa CO. A designathon to co-create community-driven HIV self-testing services for Nigerian youth: findings from a participatory event. BMC infectious diseases. 2021 Dec;21(1):1-8.
- Rosenberg NE, Obiezu-Umeh CS, Gbaja-Biamila T, Tahlil KM, Nwaozuru U, Oladele D, Musa AZ, Idigbe I, Okwuzu J, Bamidele T, Tang W. Strategies for enhancing uptake of HIV self-testing among Nigerian youths: a descriptive analysis of the 4YouthByYouth crowdsourcing contest. BMJ Innovations. 2021 Feb 26:bmjinnov-2020.
2021 granted us prosperity in our work amidst the ongoing pandemic and has left the door open for 2022 and its new opportunities that await. We thank our entire team–researchers, investigators, youth ambassadors, youth team, and all Nigerian youth that actively participated in our ongoing contests and efforts. Without our team and their contributions, we could not have accomplished all that we did. We look ahead to the new year, a new list of goals we have created for ourselves, and the new set of opportunities that lie before us. We are ready for 2022.
We share our 2022 resolutions with you:
“May 2022 be the year we provoke and inspire young people in Nigeria and beyond to fight for the right to equitable and accessible health care.” – Dr. Juliet Iwelunmor
“As we make another trip around the sun, I resolve to be more deliberate with developing a healthy mindset, heartset, healthset, and soulset (aka my interior empires). So I would seek out spaces where I can learn, and 4YBY continues to be such a space for me to learn from the research team and young people. Throughout the 4YBY contests, I continue to be amazed at how creative and innovative young people can be. I am looking forward to learning more from young people, and I encourage them to continue to tap into their capabilities. To this, I wish us all a safe, productive, and healthy 2022.” – Dr. Ucheoma Nwaozuru
“Continue to push the health agenda forward for young people. Nigerian youth, may you remember that you have what it takes to make positive changes. I hope you continue to remember your self-care and know that your ideas matter. In 2022, may 4YBY and Nigerian youth continue to shine light on things that matter most for young people and keep inspiring generations to come.” – Stacey Mason
“2022 is a new year filled with so many possibilities. My view for the year and message to all youth is quite simple.
- Focus more on building positivity. Always work towards building positive thoughts and try your best to not to focus on the negativity around you. Negative thoughts are mind traps that stop you from focusing and moving forward. (A movie reference would be King Richard–a short documentary movie on the early years of Venus Williams and Serena Williams, the greatest black tennis star in the world.)
- Be visionary. Step outside your comfort. Constantly improve yourself in what you do. Improve yourself as a person. Improve yourself as a lover. Improve yourself as a pastor or imam. You have the power of being a great leader, partner, and individual when you focus on improving yourself. The goal is to always make strides. Give yourself time to read new books and try out new things.” – Victor Ojo
“Consistently work towards being the best version of yourself, personally and professionally. And when you’re tired of working, just listen to yourself…relax. Relax and recharge, so you can come back better than ever. Do what is best for you. Sometimes we need to put ourselves first to be better for those around us.” – Alexis Engelhart