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The need to strengthen HIV and AIDS campaigning in constituency programmes Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Ella, Nigeria Nov 18, 2008
Health , HIV/AIDS   Opinions


The issue of creating more awareness on HIV and AIDS should not be overlooked globally. Despite the campaigns that have already been carried out, only a little difference has been made from the last sero-sentinel survey. This can be attributed to the inadequate number of messages on HIV and AIDS conveyed to the people who need them and failure to use the right media to disseminate the message. HIV and AIDS NGOs, religious leaders and other stakeholders, including women, youth and HIV and AIDS networks in constituencies, have not been involved in planning and implementation of programmes. This ought not to be so.

Due to this oversight, HIV has continued to invade the territories of people, especially rural dwellers. Many have died of AIDS because they have not been adequately informed on the need to go for the HIV test. Neither have they been encouraged to live positive lives. They still believe HIV/ AIDS to be a death sentence that cannot be remedied. Some of them have gone so far as to commit suicide. Those who are known to have contracted HIV are avoided and treated as outcasts, causing those who later discover that they have contracted the virus to maintain non-disclosure. They do this to avoid being cast out as others were.

The most vulnerable are women, girls and youth in general. They should be included meaningfully in these programmes. The woman has three roles to play in societal development: procreation, family upkeep and the nation’s human increase. The girl child has equal potential to the boy child. Her achievements would be greater if she was given more opportunities to participate in the nation’s development. In the future, the youth will take over from those who guard and uphold the nation’s boundaries. These three vulnerable groups should receive attention to reduce the negative impact of HIV and AIDS in our constituencies.

If one is curious about the identity of the driving force behind the spread of the virus is, it will be discovered that it revolves around ignorance and poverty. The truth is that people can be oriented well on ways to avoid contracting the virus. As for those who have already contracted the virus, they can learn to live positively. In both cases, the negative impact of HIV and AIDS on them will be greatly reduced.

Often, women cannot say no to unwanted sex, girls are forced into early marriages as third or fourth wives and male youth are driven into violence which can expose them to negative activities like tattooing, sharing needles in drug use and unprotected homosexual sex. These put them at a higher risk for contracting HIV.

HIV and AIDS campaigns need to be carried out more using the media, NGOs, networks, religious bodies. This will enable capacity building to help fulfill the need for disclosure, discourage the idea of stigma and empower the infected to live as positively as possible. Apart from using radio and television adverts, other possible media for the development of this campaign include bill boards (electronic or ordinary), plays in village arenas, the production of wrist-bands, T-shirts and fez-caps, the production and distribution of handbills and the education of stakeholders like village-heads, youth leaders, road transport officials, market trader officials and teachers.

The production and distribution of T-shirts and fez-caps are at times seen as a waste, but they are essentially reminders of the messages that they bear. NGOs, faith-based bodies and organizations and networks should be used to create more awareness, to carry out more capacity-building, to call back youth who have been involved in violent acts, to educate the girl child and to empower the woman to be independent. They are also instrumental in rebuilding the capacity of the female sex workers to avoid getting or spreading the HIV virus, developing peer educators and proper follow-ups to see to the success of the projects. All these elements will go a long way in reducing the destructive impact of HIV/ AIDS on our constituencies.



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Writer Profile

My name is Ella Offiong. I studied Mass Communications and have been involved in HIV/ AIDS related work as a resource person and participant since my graduation in 1998. I have also written for a couple of organizations. I am Nigerian.

Nice piece
R Kahendi | Feb 15th, 2009
This is a great piece. Keep the dialogue going!

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