Where are the 3.5 million Nigerians infected with HIV/AIDS?

By Dimos Sakellaridis

The intention of the title is not to scare or stigmatize any reader but to generate an intelligent discussion about the [spread] of HIV and AIDS in Nigeria.

In a country of 189 million people, 3.5 million may seem like an insignificant number. However, I know of some countries with populations less than 3.5 million inhabitants, and I cannot imagine what the future of such a country would look like if all their citizens were infected with HIV and AIDS. The picture of such an imagination would be a monumental tragedy of overwhelming proportions. Horrendous statistics in Nigeria pegs the HIV and AIDS infected population at 3.5 million and either way you look at it; it is no mean figure.

HIV is spread when blood, semen, or vaginal fluid from an infected person enters another person’s body, usually through sexual contact, from sharing needles when injecting drugs, or from mother to baby during birth. Many reasons have been adduced for the growing scourge. One of the top reasons is the poor needle and condom use. In the current harrowing economy, sexual pleasure will be a top recreational activity, and that possibly means increased unprotected sex for individuals seeking short-term pleasure to long-term economic struggles.

If such a large number of Nigerians are infected with HIV and AIDS according to National Agency for the Control of AIDS, then a larger population of Nigerians must be interacting with them one way or the other. Some of the 3.5 million may be married to someone or be related to another as a son, daughter, cousin, in-law, brother, sister, niece, nephew, aunt or uncle. The infected ones may be relating to other people as friends, neighbors, customers, clients or colleagues. One way or the other, we are all connected to them. Some others tragically may be relating to these infected ones as sexual partners. When you look at 3.5 million holistically, then you realize that it is not a strange distant figure in another city or territory. It is very close to home, and that is scary.

If these infected people are Nigerians, then other Nigerians are connected to them one way or the other. So, when experts advise individuals to stay safe especially in sexual relationships, sharp people are smart to listen and adhere.

In retrospection, I am positive that if any of these people were infected through unprotected intercourse, they would wish they had done something differently. By something, I mean used a condom every time they had sex. So many people find condom use boring. Others believe that condom use gets in the way of full sexual pleasure or excitement. I understand their reservations especially if they have never heard of the Fiesta Premium condoms available in 12 different variants of colors, textures, shapes, flavors, thickness and sizes so that individuals can enjoy a different, exciting and pleasurable experience every time they have sex. Fiesta condoms put the ‘F’ in Fun and are backed by DKT Nigeria’s symbols of excellence; ‘Effective, Safe, Affordable and Quality’ (ESAQ). Fiesta Premium Condoms are a great choice because they can prevent both pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, so whenever you use Fiesta condoms, you get double protection combined with pleasure…Sex does not have to be risky and dangerous particularly when there is the grave potential that one’s sexual partner may already be infected with HIV and AIDS. Condom use must be encouraged.

The number of ladies engaged in commercial sex workers may increase because the challenging economy could push many promising young girls into the tackiness of prostitution. Many of them would choose the horrendous career path unaware of the tragedies that are embedded within especially the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and death. It is very unfortunate. But that is the ugly truth. Women and young girls suffering under the agony of poverty may soon choose the ‘easy’ way out through prostitution, and they may not know that they can even protect themselves although in a very unpalatable profession.  These women or girls are related to people. They have families and friends who may not be aware that they are linked to a person within the enemy lines of infection with HIV and AIDS. This is a tragedy especially when you imagine the number of people living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria. This is not to stigmatize the PLWHA, but any population of people living with HIV and AIDS should be treated with the utmost importance especially as the global community celebrates World AIDS Day on December 1st, 2016.

I am positive that engaging in positive sexual behaviors including the use of condoms to prevent STDs will significantly reduce the [spread] of HIV and AIDS in Nigeria.

Dimos Sakellaridis is the Country Director of DKT International Nigeria.

News article: DKT

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