As at March 2016, Nigeria had an estimated HIV positive population of 3.3 million, making up almost 10% of the global HIV/AIDS burden in the world.
The fight against this deadly disease has been a constant battle not just in Nigeria but at the global stage.
Therefore, December 1st, is usually set aside as “WORLD AIDS DAY” where the universe is not only reminded to stay safe as far as the virus is concerned, humanity is also sensitized about it.
Again, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), health organizations such as ‘World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations among others, have been on their toes trying to help curb this traumatizing situation in the world by distributing free condoms, by conducting free HIV/AIDS test, organizing free forums and events where this virus could better be discussed.
In spite all efforts by governments of the world, individuals, groups, companies and organizations; there has been a global increase of HIV/AIDS.
In Nigeria particularly, aside from funding and proper sensitization, discrimination has been one of the major issues that come with the deadly virus in the country.
HIV/AIDS patients are most of the times not only seen and treated with disdain; they are also being treated like the worst set of humans ever. Thus, most Nigerians are so quick to judge them as they are usually being labeled as “prostitutes”, “womanizers”, “sinners” and more.
This lingering issue of stereotyping has not only prevented lots of Nigerians from even finding out their HIV/AIDS status, but has also pushed those who are positive to neither talk about it nor go for treatment publicly.
Thus, lots of HIV patients in recent times would rather opt for herbal treatments.
According to the Leadership Initiative for Youth Empowerment (LIFE), following their recent sensitization programme, said there is a high HIV/AIDS increase Lagos State due to discrimination against the patients who often opt for herbal treatment to other more researched and approved drugs for the virus.
Speaking at the event, LIFE’s group programme manager, James Unegbu, said;
“Mostly affected by this scourge within the community are vulnerable persons within the community, as their styles contribute about 10 percent of all cases of infection in country.
“Many vulnerable persons do not access health services at the primary healthcare centers… because of the stigma and discrimination of communities and sadly even health workers towards them.
“As medical professionals and staff, we want to see an end to sexually transmitted infection particularly HIV/AIDS infection through improved access to transmitted infection treatment for community members as a whole,” The Cable reported.
While it is totally understandable why these patients often hide their status, it just does not worth it after all as there is no any verified and approved herbal treatment in the country yet.
Thus, such patients are not only endangering themselves the more, but they are also endangering other innocent Nigerians as well.
Therefore, as we urge Nigerians to stay safe, discriminating others is never the way out of this problem.
Remember it could have been any one else because some of these patients did not get the virus sexually.
Therefore, our words of encouragement and advice will go a long way in improving rather than destroying lives.
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