It was about 8pm on Friday Night, the boys had gathered at the bar for routine ritual with the ‘green bottles” in Lagos, Nigeria. Taiwo interrupted the general football conversation and Arsenal football club bashing when he rushed in upon receiving a brief telephone call outside the bar. He loudly announced to the men sitting in an opposite table that Bola (a girl he had been wooing for months now) was on her way to his house. The guys hailed him with cheers of his “accomplishment” and he responded to our amusement with ten “press ups”. He picked his car key and assured us that the lady would confirm him as the real man that night
Brother buy condom on your way home! Clement reminded him.
Condom? I don’t need that stuff, besides, women hate condom, Taiwo retorted.
The above exchange was the beginning of a thought provoking debate. Majority of the young men told a tale of how either them or their girlfriends or both preferred “uninterrupted sexual pleasure” over using a condom.
Further revelation from the conversation is a common fallacy spreading among some section of Nigerian youths. Emeka, a middle aged business man declared that; “HIV was a fake news invented by Western World to stop Africans from giving birth to many children”. In his conclusion, he argued that “HIV can only affect those that believes it’s existence”
Teju’s contribution was the most shocking…well, only to me and Clement. At this point, two of us had been isolated in the debate. According to him, it is the anti-retro viral drugs that kill people who stupidly agreed that they had HIV. He boastfully confessed having unprotected sexual intercourse with many women, including prostitutes, for years and yet he still thrives in good health. He concluded by advising those with strange illnesses to seek spiritual solution as their problem may be caused by spiritual attack.
This was not my first contact with Nigerian youths who had giving up on both abstinence and protection in the fight against HIV and Aids. I have taken my time to explore the opinion of many youths across the country. It has been the same story with different reasons.
A particular young girl at Benue state university in north central Nigeria queried the rationale behind using condom to have sex with a man she loves. As far as she is concerned , “It does not make sense” .
This is indeed a dangerous development that requires urgent intervention. It is a problem that I hope Lead Nurse Africa International foundation will consider as part of their SlumNurse project so they can use the opportunity to call attention of stakeholders to the dangerous trend.
HIV campaign, like many other health promotion in Nigeria and Africa have continued to miss an important socio-cultural orientation of members of our population. There is a gap between awareness and willingness to implement what is learnt when such messages ignore established social and religious platform or fail to appreciate our unique Socio-Psychological disposition.
When Nigeria fought ebola to standstill, the general population were able to fall in line with all precautionary measures sorely because religious organization owned the message and introduced it into their sermons and announcements. All the traditional set up appreciates the consequences of the outbreak.
Sadly, HIV/AIDS are viewed by many religious organization and traditional institutions as punishment for fornication. Professionals in the health sector have so far failed to successfully deal with this sentiment. However, abstinence sermon does not seem to be working. We must find a way to engage Nigerian and African social and religious institution and design a strategy that can produce desired result. Preventive measures fails when knowledge does not lead to change in behaviour.
The problem with current measure is that we have assumed that whatever works elsewhere will work everywhere. Most countries in Africa have multicultural communities with different factors affecting their way of life and how they respond to situations. In Africa, every community is a new world. We must “honestly” convince the society’s social drivers to become our partners in public health intervention.
Collins Ogbolu ( Lead Nurse Africa editor)
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