One of the reasons why it is important to write about HIV and AIDS on a day like this, isn’t because people don’t know enough about AIDS (though that shouldn’t be taken for granted) or because there’s some new thing to say (which in fact there probably is), but it is rather that it is important to reinforce what we already know about this scourge which appear to be relegated to the background by other ills, such as terrorism, ravaging our shared humanity presently.
It is “safe” to say that much information has gone out over time about the danger that HIV represents, and reaction to the scourge nowadays isn’t what it used to be, with issues like stigmatization gradually reducing though it could still be considerably reduced. Interestingly, the information and enlightenment out there may not have necessarily impacted on behavioral change today as it was in the early days when fear was at the heart of most cases of attitudinal change. This is because we have learnt to live with the disease, even as there are now widely available, medication that can help prolong the lives of People Living With HIV and AIDS, PLWHA by limiting drastically the harmful effects of the virus on the human body.
It is in the light of this that it has become pertinent not to relent on the campaign to eliminate this disease like the ones before it that came, we saw and conquered. We shouldn’t be comfortable with the status quo that continues to enrich pharmaceutical companies involved in the production of Anti-Retroviral drugs, ARVs, by ensuring more funding for those who are working to find a cure, with the intention to making the drug available at a reasonable yet affordable price for those affected and infected.
In Nigeria, we have been inundated with a few people whose proclamation as to having a cure for the viral infection have gained widespread attention and some press, unfortunately what we overlook is the fact that many of the purveyors of these elixirs may have skimmed quite a lot off the hands of desperate Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS seeking a cure by all means possible, only to come off worse than they had been. It behooves therefore on the government to protect its citizens, not only by ensuring free or affordable/subsidized ARV’s but by charging these “charlatans” for reckless endangerment to life of the unsuspecting “patients” who had approached them for medical help only to end up as “guinea pigs”.
What even shocks me more is the fact that some of those perpetrating this scam of having a cure for HIV/AIDS are othordox medical practitioners, some microbiologists, even virologists, even professors in these fields who should know better, especially as regards the procedure involved in eventually pronouncing a drug fit for human consumption, yet they feign ignorance of international statutes and go ahead to unleash their poisons on hapless sufferers.
If we are to get the incidence of HIV and AIDS to ZERO, what we must do is clear. Even though a curative medication isn’t on the table yet, or looks impossible because of the nature of the virus, it remains what MUST be done, with the aid of ever increasing technology and all we can achieve with it. Another, which is achievable (though difficult) is to stop new cases of the disease, even halt spread, and this can be done by intensifying our efforts like it was back when contracting the disease was synonymous with a death sentence. The laxity we have today, must be replaced with a redoubling of efforts. We haven’t come this far just to fail!