Mary Slessor Journal of Medicine

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AIDS: ‘A Disease of Mass Destruction' An Assault to our Shared Humanity: Review

Chidi Chike Achebe


HIV/AIDs pandemic has torn the social, economic and political fabric of several societies to shreds. Africa stands as the worst affected continent accounting over three quarters of the 42 million cases worldwide. Out of 3.1 million people that died of this scourge in the past 12 months. 2 million were Africans. One of the major legacies of AIDS is the increase in the number of orphans. One third (11 million) of the 34 million orphans in Africa is contributed by AIDS. Nigeria contribute significantly to these African figures. Current estimates place the spread of HIV in Nigeria at the rate of one person per minute. Heterosexual transmission of HIV is primary mode of spread in Nigeria and infections appear to be as numerous in the rural areas in the cities. Like in most of the developing world, the sexually active youths (15-24 yrs) are the most vulnerable to HIV infections with prevalence as high as 12% among this group in some states, the HIV epidemic threatens the political and economic vitality of Nigeria. The National Intelligence Council – an agency that advises the US Government, believes that AIDS is likely to negatively impact almost all sectors of Nigeria's economy by 2010. AIDS will take a heavy economic toll of robbing the country of many key government, professional and business elite and by discouraging foreign investment. Experts warn that if aggressive action is not taken to combat HIV, Nigeria will almost certainly take over from South Africa as the country with the most a HIV cases on the African continent. Several other factors contributed to the rapid spread of HIV infections in Nigeria. Some of these include high prevalence of untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs), low condom use, poverty, illiteracy and the dismal quality of the health system, some others include lack of effective leadership and/or political complacency, gender inequality, stigmatization, and denial of HIV risk among vulnerable groups. Strategies to combat HIV/AIDS in Nigeria will involve strong political leadership, effective policy ad advocacy, effective concerted media campaigns and creation of a reliable HIV/AIDS programming; improved STI intervention and treatment, sex worker health and education campaign, national condom program, empowerment of women and women groups, promoting high risk behaviour change, improving the health care system, stimulating HIV/AIDs research, local production of anti-retroviral medication, increased local and international funding for AIDs prevention and treatment as well as safer sex and prevention education programs.
Mary Slessor Journal of Medicine Vol.4(1) 2004: 1-17
AJOL African Journals Online