Saturday, 1 December 2012

GETTING TO ZERO

The road to an HIV free generation is everyone business and it begins with you knowing your status. The first time I heard about HIV/AIDS was in 2003 at the age of 16. (Correct information) the Young Men Christian Association(YMCA) came to my school to get young people who will volunteer to be peer educators under a reproductive health program. After filling their questionnaires, four of  us were chosen. We were trained for a week in Eruwa,Oyo State by professionals in development work, doctors,  public health practioners.



  Walking on the streets of Kakuri to talk to my peers and older people about reproductive health issues was challenging but yet interesting. There were times when people don’t want to listen, some parents chased us away from their kids because they felt we were corrupting them, some embraced us. I felt this joy having so much information and could share it freely with friends and family. Some family friends didn’t like the fact that my parents allowed me do this at that age.
In all of this, it may shock you to know that in the midst of so much campaign and advocacy, a large number of people are still ignorant about HIV/AIDS.  Getting people to the HIV test has been a big problem. You hear words like “what I don’t know can’t kill me”, I am not a prostitute so I can’t have HIV”, “immediately I know my status I will die gradually”. E.t.c.  HIV is not contacted only through sex, other ways include injecting drugs, sharing syringes, mother to child transmission, tattoos and piercing, unscreened blood transfusion, e.t.c.

Statistics of HIV in Nigeria

1. HIV prevalence among the general population is 3.6%

2. About 3.1 million new infections occur annually with people aged 15-24 contributing 60% of the infections

3. 1.5 million people living with HIV require ARVs using the new WHO guidelines

4. Only 30% of people living with HIV who need antiretroviral (ARVs) have access to it.

5. Less than 30% of pregnant women have access to PMTCT services.

These figures are alarming and depressing. Information is key to getting zero level. People need to be informed widely. In places of worship, social gatherings, rural areas, social media, e.t.c.. Our religious leaders can do more, footballers, musicians, nollywood . These are people who command attention. They talk and people want to listen. Young people need to get accurate information. They want to know if there are alternatives. If dwelling on abstinence has not worked enough, let them know that there are condoms and they should be properly used. Condoms are cheap and effective; N20 gold cycle can save a generation.

We need to know that there are sexually active young people and talking abstinence may not make sense to them.

Today we mark another world AIDS day with the theme “getting to zero”. These are my wishes;

1. More friendship and heart to heart centers where young people can go for counseling, testing and get accurate information on reproductive health issues.

2. Lets stop discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS

3. Wide access to anti-retroviral drugs

4. PLWHA (People living with HIV /AIDS)will enjoy equal opportunities because they are normal human beings just like every other person. Their status should not be a barrier to achieving their dreams and aspirations.

5. Dear parents, sex education is important. It is not a crime or taboo to talk to your children about sex. Give them correct information. It will do them good

An HIV free generation begins with YOU..  Get tested, lets get to ZERO…

Twitter - @flofash

14 comments:

  1. Thanks Ope, keep up the good work.

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  2. Nice work Ope. An HIV free generation is possible through enlightenment

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  3. Thanks for the enlightenment Opeyemi. I pray we achieve an HIV free generation. I'll always root for abstinence & faithfulness anyday 'cos distributing condoms is like encouraging immorality. There's no doubt that the hormones are fired up between the ages of 15 - 24 but that doesn't justify pre-marital sex. #MyOpinion

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    1. The hormones are fired up, today, regardless of age. There's so much out there pushing a human being... It is however your choice if you embrace what will kill you or abstain from practices that can save your life. It begins with us. Lovely and timely reminder Ope. It doesn't know race or religion....it just guns for blood!

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