Today in 1981, the first AIDS virus was officially recognised. Therefore we remember on every Dec 1st, those who have fallen to AIDS. We also praise the efforts put in over the years by people from all walks of life to curb the virus.
And even today, despite all the enlightenment campaigns tossed around for the past three decades; a good number of people still do not fully understand the mechanics of AIDS. They still have facts, fictions and myths all jumbled up.
Yesterday at the International Film Festival- the Kenyan Movie- ‘Dreams of Elibidi’ highlighted this unfortunate reality. The movie depicts a young boy- ken- who thinks he has the virus just because of his recurrent diarrhoea while yet another boy- Pablo rapes a virgin after discovering he has AIDS.
These are depictions of the realities of everyday life on this continent. And Nigeria isn’t an exception. We have the third largest number of people living with AIDS in the entire world! That’s a massive figure and one that should concern everyone.
World AIDS Day is an important reminder to individuals and governments that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
The HIV epidemic in Nigeria is complex and varies widely by region. In some states, the epidemic is more concentrated and driven by high-risk behaviors, while other states have more generalized epidemics; sustained by multiple sexual partnerships in the general population. Youth in Nigeria are particularly vulnerable to HIV, with young women at higher risk than young men.
There are many risk factors that contribute to the spread of HIV in this country. Some of them include; prostitution, high-risk practices among itinerant workers, high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STI), clandestine high-risk heterosexual and homosexual practices, international trafficking of women, and irregular blood screening.
We use this unique forum to remind you of the theme for World AIDS Day 2011; “Getting to Zero.”
After 30 years of the global fight against HIV/AIDS, this year the focus is on achieving 3 targets: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.
By Obinna Odenigbo
Follow Obinna on twitter @teflonbauss