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LIGHTS OUT FOR HIV/AIDS AWARENESS CAMPAIGN?

I can’t remember the last time I came across an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign.

Honestly, is it that I am no longer in the target group/audience of HIV/AIDS sensitization?

Of course, it can’t be that. Is there even anything like that; HIV/AIDS target group? Afterall, everyone is affected.

Or has the days of HIV/AIDS campaign ended? That is even more impossible, sorry, less probable. I was in secondary school when I first heard of HIV/AIDS. Resource person sensitized us on it. University campus hosted robust sensitization campaign. NYSC, too. Since then, I’ve never really come in contact with information that richly discusses the reality of HIV/AIDS around me, us.

Well, I pass a few billboards every now and then. But the content of such exposure only makes sense because I already had a longer exposure to the information on the subject-matter. If it had been my first time, I probably wouldn’t have made much from it.

Think about it, how much info can one capture while walking or driving past a billboard? You can agree with me that it can’t be that much.

So here’s my worry? Why the less buzz about HIV/AIDS? It definitely hasn’t gone anywhere.

Not at all.

Although its spread is not “record-high alarming,” yet, even a single new infection is quite an alarm.

Of course, we all haven’t heard of HIV/AIDS. Even if we have, given the implications of the disease, a steady reminder is needed for such “gospel-truth.” Afterall, “Jesus is coming soon” has been resounded for more than 2,000 years.

“AIDS is Real” cannot be resounded enough as well.

So, why am I hearing it less? I’ve actually not heard any of it in a long while.

Of course HIV/AIDS hasn’t gone anywhere. Our dear Nigeria hold the record of the second largest incidence rate in the whole world, with a reported prevalence of 1.9 million Nigerians infected with the virus.
I assure you, birds in the air were not built into that number, neither were trees in the forest. The figures represent humans, me and you, people around us. That is not all; the number is not limiting. By that I mean it can hardly be confined to that figure, Neither can it be decimated, although with effort, it can be kept from increasing. Which is our best shot.

You see why awareness campaign and sensitization must never go down?

One of the factors that undermine the reality of HIV/AIDS is that the condition does not kill, in itself. It is the opportunistic complications made possible by it that kills. Denying the “glory” of the cause of death to whom it is due. We hear the mighty works of “village people” as they (people) inflict incurable illnesses on people they despise. Many deaths are explained away as “brief illness,” no questions asked.

In 2018, it was reported that there were 53,000 AIDS-related deaths in Nigeria. How many of that number were recognized as AIDS-related by people around. Given the stigma that unfortunately is still attached to the condition, the cause of death, if known, is shrouded. HIV/AIDS is an additional risk factor to many health conditions; heart, kidney, liver, bone, etc. By additional, I mean, any person may come down with any of these conditions, being HIV-positive just pushes you further to the frontline for it.

Remember what I said about the figures not including birds of the air and trees of the forest. So yes, people are dying from HIV/AIDS-related conditions, everyday before our very eyes.

And here we are, talking less about it, as if we have talked about it enough.

The effort of those who brought the knowledge of HIV/AIDS to the frontline is most commendable. People who committed their resources, time and knowledge, to spread awareness of a health condition legions of people were simply oblivious of. They managed to take us from zero awareness, to a level of awareness enough to help us make good choices, safe choices. But it’s a continuing fight as the war is yet to be over.

Nothing reiterates this like the staggering number of new infections reported in 2018; 130,000. Maybe nobody owes it as a duty to inform/remind me or anyone.

Well, maybe, ok.

Awareness has proven to be effective in dousing the incidence of the infection. Any laxity in this regard may as well reverse progress recorded.

HIV/AIDS sensitization is not a scare. Even the condition itself is hardly that; a scare, given treatment is available that makes it possible for carriers to live, led normal lives and living up to full life expectancy (which just so happens to be 54 years in Nigeria at the moment. Talk for another day).

So why the tone-down?

Did the money run-dry? Should it even be about the money? Afterall, all the monies committed to it so far didn’t emerge from a vacuum. It was the resources of others and they chose to commit it to fighting HIV/AIDS.

What altruistic commitment are we, as a people, as Nigerians and as Africans making on our own end? Particularly given the reality that we are the most affected. The gains are for our good, any and everything left undone will be upon us to suffer.

With more knowledge, we learn the many things before us to combat; communicable and non-communicable diseases. In many cases, our best bet to combating these challenges is often effort such as making lifestyle changes, minor and major ones, making good lifestyle choices. People may be willing to make these changes if they knew what they were, reiterating the need for unending advocacy.

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