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From VVIPs In Lagos To Beggers In Benue

From VVIPs In Lagos To Beggers In Benue

hiv-aids-ribbon-ip2tlrbg-200x300As I kept observing my teacher for like the tenth time, without his noticing

it, myself and my very good friend Olumide Akindolani and uche okorie giggled as our teacher’s eyes were fixed on this very beautiful lady sitting next to me, before you know it, he sent me to get something from the school bus, on getting back, my seat was occupied and his vacant..lol…Don’t ask me what he sent me to bring, because i no see the thing!!!
It was far back in 2001 at the full gospel business center( hope i recall correctly) somewhere in Victoria Island Lagos, during an event organised by the christian fellowship across Africa to COMMEMORATE the world’s AIDS day. I had that opportunity as one of the debaters representing Baptist Academy Obanikoro.
When the whole lecture upon lecture and the fanfair that goes with it was over, then came the moment of truth, the mc told the audience that a VVIP was in our midst, and that all cameras from media bodies should be shut,no video and no photographs, the lightening was shut down and only the ones enough to see our mouth as we dwelled on item no7 was left on. Before then, people were given opportunity to move around and mingle, as secondary school students, we move quickly to those student from other schools we have been eyeing…if you know what i mean. As we sat and chatted with our new catch, my teacher was not left out, though i did not monitor his moves before now as i was busy with mine, i only had to observe if he was watching me as i ”dey display” but he wasn’t. As we ate “cauteously” the VVIP was introduced, the mc extolled the VVIP, as an amazon, as a beauty, as humane and other beautiful words that caught everyone’s attention, which i cannot recall now. As she stood up, the word ”fehn gey”(fine girl) dropped out of my friend Akindolani’s mouth, as she made her way to the stage,men, irrespective of their new catch could not help but admire her while our young teacher smiled ”championly”…hope you know why. On getting on the stage, she shook hands with the mc, smiled and men paid more attention, the mc told the audience that, what made this lady unique person among us is two folds 1. She is HIV +ve and 2.She is willing to share her experience with us, at this moment, my teachers face looked like someone condenmed to hell.
She narrated some of her experience thus to us. When i first told my family “My dad and sister found it very hard to come to terms with,” she recalls. “They were treating me like a leper.”Every time I’d go to their house, they’d be bleaching everything and took their toothbrushes and razors out of the bathroom.
“They spent a fortune on sterilising liquids and even talked about buying me separate cutlery and glasses for me,” she says.I remember one time I was walking around their house. I didn’t have any socks on and my sister went mad,shouting ‘what if you cut your foot, and then we get it?’.”They didn’t see me as the same old person any more.It made me feel absolutely worthless.
“And if my family was going to treat me like that, how would the rest of the world?” Like many people living with HIV, she says she has experienced discrimination from health professionals,including a dentist who would only treat her at the end of the day (last person of the day) and a doctor who assumed she’d been infected through drug use.
Shr recalled how she had dreams of getting married and having 3 kids, being a graduate and all, those hopes according to her are all gone.
Someone from the audience asked, how she got to know about being infected, she told him that she just went with her friends to check, just for checking sake and that was all, at this point she became emotional, and when another asked her if she has a boyfriend and does he know of her status…she broke down in tears and had to he helped out of stage, however she got so many gifts and checks from participants.That was my first time of seeing someone living with AIDS.
Fastforward to 2014, as i sat in the corper’s office in benue state where I served,and watched the protestes through the office window, they complained of not getting drugs and insensitivity of the government. I picked an earlier report on the he protest by business day saw even a more revealing picture. According to the report, the spokeswoman of the group, Kasevhemba Aondoakaa, expressed shock that the government decided to abandon them. Ms. Aondoakaa, a teacher, said that the apparent insensitive position of the government toward their plight had left them with no option than to embark on the protest. ”For two good months, no single drug has been given to us. Our regular test has not been carried out either.”They keep on telling us that there are no drugs to give us. We are tired of hearing all these stories; we want the president and the minister to do something about this issue.
“We are being maltreated, according to them, U.S.Presidential Emergency Plan for Aids Relief in Africa(PEPFAR) has withdrawn its sponsorship for the programme.”The Head of Clinical Services, Petelu Inunduh, however, said the issue was beyond the hospital management.Mr. Inunduh explained that the programme was initially handled by the Aid Prevention Initiative Nigeria, APIN. He said that as a result of the regionalisation exercise in 2013, the centre was handed over to Centre for Integrated Health Programme, CIHP, by Centre for Diseases Control, CDC.
“From the beginning of the programme, our centre was under APIN but was later handed over to CIHP in 2013 as a result of the regionalisation exercise.
“We are only hosting the programme here, though 110 of our members of staff are currently working for the programme, while 55 members of staff were employed by PEPFAR. ”We have over 15,000 patients on ART list and over 27,000 who are also collecting their drugs at our centre.
“When we were handed over to CIHP in 2013, they declined to take over on the grounds that they lacked capacity to run the centre.
“Subsequently, we were again handed over to the Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria, IHVN, but the marriage has failed to yield positive result. ”Since their takeover, there has been erratic supply of drugs, laboratory reagents, and lack of funds to manage the laboratories,” he said.
He disclosed that the management had already held a series of meeting with stakeholders with the aim of addressing the problem. just recently, people living with HIV/AIDS alleged that the Benue State government distributed expired anti-retroviral drugs; the government denied it.(NAN).
As I watched the crowd, I wondered to myself, HOW DID OUR VERY VERY IMPORTANT PERSONs (VVIP s)BECOME BEGGERS.
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