My first article in this series “Relationship Pattern and Spread of HIV/AIDS” published on ThisDay Saturday 27th January, 2018 dealt broadly on relationship pattern within the family setting and between intending couples. Before i continue i wish to express my gratitude to all those who called me to make noteworthy comments on the article.
In this second article in the series, i intend to deal with the same topic but in workplace, school and neighbourhood settings.
This has become necessary to further enlighten the general public on the need to accept the plain truth that HIV pandemic is a reality of our time. Secondly that being infected with the virus does not in any way impair the person’s mental or physical capability. Scientific research has proven beyond doubt that once the infected person takes the drugs prescribed by a qualified physician accordingly (adherence), avoids abuse of alcohol and similar substances, maintains a single partner and observes related precautions that the individual remains in the right mental and physical state as he/she had been before contracting the virus.
It is therefore out of sheer ignorance that some un-informed employers deny employment to a qualified candidate simply because he/she happens to be HIV positive. Worse still when a staff that has been diligent and has acquired appreciable on the job experience is laid off simply because he/she tested HIV positive.
This unfortunate scenario is common in the developing countries primarily because of wide spread ignorance of the basic facts on the epidemic especially as relates to proper post detection management. In the developed countries, the candidate that has tested positive is encouraged with employment opportunity and officially permitted to absent him/herself from duty at regular intervals to visit the hospital for medical follow-up and drug pick-up. It is also not viewed negatively that an employee is HIV positive.
The authority only takes necessary precautions to ensure that other company staff are protected from the infection both within the office environment and outside. This they achieve by encouraging their staff to visit government approved hospitals and health care centres to undergo periodic free HIV counseling and testing.
In the absence of the right encouragement and protection from the employer, the infected worker becomes unduly exposed to stigmatization (discrimination) and subsequently unwillingly resigns his/her appointment out of frustration. When this happens, the individual and by extension the general public is plunged into avoidable regrettable circumstances that will contribute to increase the spread of the virus.
This same improper reasoning takes place in educational institutions where the authority does not take appropriate steps to keep a student’s HIV status confidential. Once a student’s HIV status becomes an open secret he/she definitely faces undue stigmatization from other students and the resultant outcome is that the student becomes extremely uncomfortable within the environment which invariably compels him/her to withdraw from the institute.
Making the matter worse, there are some institutions that require the student to submit his/her HIV test result as a mandatory requirement for admission.
These unhelpful situations could be avoided in the best interest of the general public by knowledge of simple facts as the mode of transmission of the virus and precautions to prevent infection.
Just as we hear continually within our residential environment stories going on that one of our neighbours has contracted HIV/AIDS simply because he/she has some symptoms similar to those of the epidemic. Once the unverified gossip goes round, both the family members and close friends of the suspected person receive the same discrimination as the supposed infected person. These damaging scenarios continually occur because of ignorance or outright neglet of proper measures to take to ascertain the person’s exact HIV status.
It is sad to point out at this juncture that our people are still reluctant to liberally submit themselves to free HIV Counseling and Testing going on in most government hospitals and health care centres. Unfortunately most people are still reluctant to observe the basic precautions as the use of condom and not to share unsterilized sharp objects with others.
Making the matter worse is the claim by some devilish miracle and wonders pastors who promise total cure of the epidemic by spiritual deliverance at exorbitant costs. It is not and has never been in doubt that the Lord performs miracles but it is advisable that the infected person takes his/her drugs strictly as prescribed while going through the spiritual deliverance. Failure to do this will definitely result in deteriorated health condition that will take extra grace of God for the individual to survive.
Same as some quack hospitals that maliciously admit ignorant HIV patients only to discharge them in deteriorated state after extorting money from them.
Presently there is no cure for the epidemic but concerted efforts are going on to develop one.
For this reason, infected persons are advised to adhere strictly to their drug intake as only those who follow this rule will live to see the cure when it eventually comes.
Finally let us all relate with infected persons as we do with every other person in our environment as we do not know who it could be next.
–––Neboh writes from Lagos