Recently, the Kaduna State Media missperceptions in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Kaduna State Agency for the Control of AIDS (KASACA), held an awareness meeting to deliberate on the current HIV situation in the state. Issues discussed centred on how the state has fared and what needs to be done to make the state HIV free.
In 2008, a study conducted by the National AIDS Reproductive Health Survey (NARHS), put the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Kaduna State at 7 per cent, and in 2011, another study put the prevalence rate at 5.1 per cent. That means for every 100 people, five are positive.
Recently, modes of transmission study was carried out in Kaduna and the state’s media cooperation in collaboration with the state’s agency for the control of AIDS (KADSACA) and the United Nations Children International Education Fund (UNICEF), hosted a two-day awareness meeting on the current situation of HIV/AIDS in Kaduna State and the FCT.
According to the study, contrary to widespread reports, female sex workers are not contributing much to the HIV burden in the state as they only account for about 3.5 per cent of the new infections while the bulk of the new infections are from the general population.
The report also revealed that condom use is still on the average as it is only about 60 per cent. Condom, says experts, is one of the preventive measures in terms of HIV transmission and prevention. Looking at the A, B and C of HIV prevention messages, the C, which is the condom aspect, provides up to 98 per cent of protection, they say.
According to the State Programme Advisor, Enhancing Nigeria’s Response to HIV/AIDS(ENR), Faruk Musa, it is a known fact that 80 per cent of HIV/AIDS transmission is through sex. “If you look at condom versus sex and HIV/ AIDS transmission, you see that condom plays a very vital role because it can give up to 98 per cent protection while the other two per cent is maybe, human error or whatever.”
However, he maintained that if condom is properly used the way it is supposed to, it can provide 99 per cent protection. “The issue with condom is generally about awareness and having specific strategies on how to, because it’s not just enough for me to design a programme for a certain group of people and tell them the advantages of condom without giving them the skills.”
He stated that what ENR is doing in partnership with the state government is to ensure that it opens up access to condom so that more people can reach them. “Don’t forget that condom in itself is the only contraceptive that provides dual protection, against pregnancy, STIs, and HIV inclusive.”
“For us, condom is central to the process of halting and reversing HIV transmission in Nigeria. Looking at the issue of PLWHA, if I am positive, I am not expecting that my wife will run away from me. The only way we can keep the marriage going is condom use until my situation improves, where I can drop the condom and even have kids.”
Musa admitted that there have been a lot of challenges in terms of condom use, saying, “There is the cultural and religious challenge where people do not want to talk about condoms. I think gradually, things are beginning to change. Condoms are now being promoted as a dual protection mechanism.
“It is a bit easier now to promote it, especially now among the faith based, that look you can use it in two ways, like you can use it in child spacing. In child spacing, there are so many reasons. Its either the woman is sick, or after her first delivery, she has high blood pressure, or maybe she doesn’t want to conceive again, or she doesn’t want to use other contraceptives, she could use a condom.”
Another major challenge with condom is the issue of female condoms. Most women do not know female condoms, not to talk of the males.
We are trying as much as possible to make it available, disclosed Musa. “In the last three months, we have distributed over 200,000 pieces of female condoms and it’s surprising that women, even educated women, haven’t seen it before. So you can imagine the ordinary women in the rural areas.”
“So, what we are trying to do is to try and make female condoms as popular and accessible as we have the male condoms. Before now, the female condoms were very expensive. That was one of our challenges. But now, it is available, and it is almost the same price with the cheapest condoms you can have in the market."