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Nigeria: AIDS Advice Available

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Aug 14, 2007 (070814)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"We are indeed succeeding in our sensitization and public enlightenment efforts. ... While we chose to whine and lampoon acts such as the incident at Covenant University [which decided in June not to allow HIV-positive students to graduate], the insurance executive who was fired for testing positive to HIV and many more, we cannot ignore ... condemnation such acts have attracted especially through newspaper editorials, columnists, opinion polls and wait for this - even discussions at amala joints, fast foods outlets, drinking bars, pepper soup joints, discussions at taxi parks." - Journalists against AIDS Nigeria

The moderator of the JAAIDS eForum (http://www.nigeria-aids.org) goes on to cite the Auntie Agatha advice column in the Daily Independent, replying to a man fearful of revealing his HIV status to friends and family. This AfricaFocus Bulletin includes the cover note from JAAIDS, the question to Auntie Agatha, and the columnist's response.

Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today provides several articles on South African President Thabo Mbeki's dismissal of Deputy Health Minister Madlala-Routledge.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on health issues, visit http://www.africafocus.org/healthexp.php


Place Your Pre-Publication Order for "No Easy Victories" Now!


http://www.noeasyvictories.org

"No Easy Victories" tells the compelling stories behind the U.S. anti-apartheid movement in the voices of those who were there. It reminds us that movements emerge over time. They are built on hard work by movement foot soldiers, and on personal networks that bridge generations as well as continents. Today we can gain strength from this history of international solidarity with the oppressed people of Southern Africa as we carry on the work of those who have gone before. - - Danny Glover, actor, activist, Chair of Transafrica Forum

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

The good side of AIDS-related stigmatisation

Nigeria-AIDS eForum

August 10, 2007

The Nigeria-AIDS eForum is a project of Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria. For more information about us, visit our website: http://www.nigeria-aids.org Contact the eForum moderator at: moderator1@nigeria-aids.org

Dear All,

Recent cases of AIDS-related stigmatisation and the myriad of public reactions that greeted these anomalies seem to have provided an invaluable opportunity for most of us to evaluate our work. Perhaps we are so incensed at these unexpected display of ignorance and crass that we fail to see the bigger picture or better still the other side of the picture.

Just in case we are not aware; our work is making the right impact. We are indeed succeeding in our sensitization and public enlightenment efforts.

While we chose to whine and lampoon acts such as the incident at Covenant University [which decided in June not to allow HIVpositive students to graduate], the insurance executive who was fired for testing positive to HIV and many more, we cannot ignore the volume and quality of condemnation such acts have attracted especially through newspaper editorials, columnists, opinion polls and wait for this- even discussions at amala joints, fast foods outlets, drinking bars, pepper soup joints, discussions at taxi parks.

Listen to phone in programmes on this matter and you will agree that we haven't done badly in our collective response to this epidemic, especially in educating the public.

Activists have also been speaking at one talk show or the other, getting free pages and airtime (they ordinarily would have lobbied or even paid for) to educate the public about VCCT and HIV transmission. Talk about the good side of shame!

Knowing this, I guess we just need to keep up the good work,with the assurance that our little efforts "availeth much".

Just to further attest to the impact of our work, below is a cross posting from the website of Daily Independent Newspaper. It is a reply to a letter written by a man living with HIV to Agatha Aghedo, a senior Editor and columnist who anchors the Agony Aunt column in Daily Independent.

Agatha as a journalist, must have been exposed to some formal and informal training on HIV/IADS.No doubt,any one doing serious AIDS education/sensitisation work would feel encouraged after reading her response to this man.

Many thanks

Moderator


I Can't Tell My Family I'm HIV-positive

Daily Independent, August 3rd, 2007

With Auntie Agatha
<gataedo@yahoo.com> 08023035139

Dear Agatha,

I read your column everyday and I must say you are God-send the way you respond to problems. I do hope you can help me. Last year, my fiance died of complications from HIV. She had taken ill and was diagnosed HIV-positive. We commenced her treatment but unfortunately she didn't survive. Since then my life has been a living hell. I haven't been able to tell anybody about my condition because I also tested positive. Only my doctor and my pastor know my situation. I just couldn't bear to subject my family to the trauma of my situation or have people pity me or be afraid of me.

I am on ARVs, but the burden of keeping my situation to myself is killing me. Now everybody is saying it is time I looked for another woman to marry. But how do I look for someone in my present situation? I am really lonely, confused and very sad. So, I would like you to help me locate associations or groups where I can meet people with the same condition as myself and interact with them. I would also appreciate whatever advice you can offer. I have a relatively good job and I am okay,but some times I feel so depressed and all alone in the world.

I would also like to know some of the agencies where one can get treatment and proper counseling, which I don't think I'm getting from my doctor.

Desperate G.


Agathas' Response:

Dear Desperate G,

You are doing yourself more harm than good by refusing to tell your family and friends about it. God didn't create us an Island. We function better if we talk to people about our problems.

I know how you feel especially on the death of your girlfriend, but it is not enough reason to sentence yourself to premature death. The health implication of isolating yourself is worse than the HIV/AIDS virus itself. What you are doing is to put the death noose around your neck and slowly watch yourself die of mental and physical torture. You don't deserve what you are doing to yourself. Now, more than ever before,you need love and attention. So, don't lock people out of your life because, frankly, this is a battle you cannot win on your own.

Granted that some people, including religious leaders still attach moral stigma to people living with HIV/AIDS, but such people are increasingly becoming the minority.

Besides, anybody who reacts to you negatively as a result of this is best edited out of your life. Such persons were never your friends and you don't need them either.

The danger of keeping everything to yourself is that you are setting yourself up for a severe psychological problem, which could include the desire to commit suicide because you think nobody loves you. It is very wrong and dangerous to make such assumptions of people who may genuinely care about you and would be most affected by the challenges you are going through.

Should anything happen to you, they would not only feel pained at your lack of faith in them, but betrayed by your wrong branding of their values and love for you.

The blanket of comfort love offers soothes so many aching joints and dead dreams. You can only get that quality of love from your family and close friends who from the day they met you donated a piece of their hearts to loving you.

The loneliness, emptiness and confusion would evaporate like floating clouds the moment you open your heart to be helped and loved by people around you.

As it stands now, you are the one judging and condemning yourself. These people don't even know what you are going through and so cannot censure you in whatever way. Unless you learn to trust yourself, value your life appropriately, you won't ever be happy. So, what if you have HIV/AIDS? Must it be the end of life? The key to overcoming it is to see it as the beginning of another stanza of your life. Believe me, it would end the way you want it to because HIV/AIDS, with advanced technology, has ceased to be a one-way ticket to eternity.

You now have the choice of living life to the fullest if you want to. It is a matter of how you in particular view your medical situation. If your disposition is negative when presenting it to your family and friends, there is every tendency they would see it from your perspective, but if you are positive about it, take it as one of the many complicating challenges that happen in life, they would have no choice but to follow your lead.

Read books, articles on HIV/AIDS, dream up new and wonderful dreams about your future, renew and expand your targets in life, befriend God more for His help in all you do, eat healthily and above all, be very positive about the inherent beauty and mysteries of life. Stop dwelling on the past or regrets, such thoughts don't matter anymore.

What is important is you being happy, alive to celebrate and conquer the new challenges before you. Don't stop yourself falling in love because it is one of the most precious gifts of life. Love itself is a very positive virus.

In addition to telling your family and friends, here is a list of persons and support groups you could contact across the country:

Dr. Patrick Matemilola, National Co-ordinator, Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NPLWHAN) is based in Abuja. Through him, you can get a support group in your area of residence. His contact is matemilolalsaca@yahoo.com or 08056163912.

Rolake Odetoyinbo of Prevention Action Treatment and National Co-ordinator of Treatment Action Movement has her office at the first floor of Holy Trinity Hospital, Adesina Street, Ikeja. She is living positively with the virus and is the co-ordinator of this group. Her numbers are 08033035895, 07028164757 or 014725349. You can also get her through her email:rolakenwagwu@yahoo.co.uk.

You can also speak to Kingsley Obom-Egbulem through these numbers: 08023208647 or through his email:kingsley@nigeria-aids.org or Margaret Onah of Safe Haven International through this email:maonah2001@yahoo.com.

These people can only do as much as you want them to do. If you refuse to be helped, refuse to believe in yourself and the mercies of God and that He no longer answers prayers, and you think the world has come to an end because you are HIV/AIDS positive, no amount of support will make you happy.

Good luck.


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin, or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see http://www.africafocus.org