On Tuesday December 1, the world marked World AIDS day. The theme of this year’s AIDS day was “resilience and ending the HIV epidemic.” The theme made me wonder if we, everyday people, are working towards ending the HIV epidemic.
HIV has been with us for a long time. As far as I know, there’s still no cure for it. Thankfully, doctors and scientists invented anti-retroviral drugs to help infected people live full, happy lives. But the goal of the world as regards HIV is to eradicate the disease like smallpox was eradicated.
In 2019, Nigeria was reported to have the second largest HIV prevalence in the world with about 1.9 million people infected with the disease. There are various reasons why the HIV rate is so high in Nigeria and of course, the role the government plays in educating, and providing treatment to people matters.
However, let’s look at ourselves. Answer the following questions truthfully and see where you stand with prevention of HIV
When was the last did you checked your HIV status? You don’t need to go to a hospital for it, there are several home kits you can use to check. Doctors have reiterated that early detection goes a long way in saving patients.
We can’t discuss HIV without talking about sex. Sex is one major way the disease infects people. When you meet a new partner, do you insist on checking HIV status before sex? If not, do you insist on condoms? Studies have shown that Nigerian women, because of gender imbalance, have a high rate of HIV infection.
We “fix” weave-ons/ braid our hair regularly. When was the last time you took your own needle and combs to the saloon? Or if you cut your hair, when was the last time you took your own clippers to the barbers’. The same goes for our manicure and pedicure needs. Are you using instruments that belongs to the nail saloon? Do you have your own cuticles remover, and nail files?
In Nigeria, HIV patients are still experiencing discrimination. As a society, people still think those infected with HIV were promiscuous or they did something to deserve it. That is not true. Anybody can be infected with HIV. By discriminating against HIV patients, we make it harder for people to be honest about their status. Unlearn discrimination. Understand that with the help of medication, HIV patients live full lives.
Finally, as the world marks World Aids Day, and the resilience of HIV patients let us remember to be conscious of the presence of HIV and be cautious about it.