How We Protect Our Children, others from HIV – Survivors
One of the survivors said this while speaking to journalists at a Three-day Workshop to Reinvigorate and Produce a Work Plan for Members of the Journalists’ Alliance for the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS (JAPiN) in Calabar, the State Capital.
According to ICIR, the workshop was organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
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The survivors pleaded that their identities be not disclosed because of the stigma associated with the virus in Nigeria.
One of the survivors who pleaded anonymity said she was proud to have lived with the virus for years without infecting her only daughter and other relations.
According to the survivor, she had a broken marriage before contracting the disease, and a suitor sought her hands in marriage shortly after her first wedding crumpled.
She disclosed that the man lived outside Nigeria and wanted her to join him abroad but the tests carried out in the course of getting her travel documents showed she had HIV.
ICIR reports that she said although the man cut off all communications with her, eight years after, she had ensured she infected nobody with the virus and had moved on with her life.
According to ICIR, she said, “I am pleased to have a child who is negative.”
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She revealed that the only daughter she got from her failed marriage is 23, and she hopes to be a grandmother in a few years.
The survivor however expressed regrets that her family wrote a compulsory resignation letter to her place of work without her consent as she was sick for a period of about three years.
“They did not get my permission to do so, and all efforts I have made to return to work have failed.”
The survivor who has been taking medication as prescribed said that the drugs are available for people with the virus in Cross River state.
According to ICIR, another survivor narrating her story said she was a community health worker before contracting the virus. She said she went to a community in Cross River, and the needle she used on one of her patients pricked her. Unknown to her, the patient from Cameroun was HIV positive.
It took her six months to realise that she had contracted the disease. She was very sick and was rushed down to Calabar before the test showed she had the virus. She developed tuberculosis during the period.
It was from then onward she began to take medication. She has since given birth to children who are negative adding that she works at FHI 360 as a volunteer in the state.
A third survivor who is 64-years-old said she was diagnosed with the virus in 2010 and had to resign from the public hospital where she was working.
According to her, although she lost her husband last year, she is happy that her husband and five children were not infected with the virus.
Speaking with a journalist, she revealed that she eats more vegetables, fish, chicken, snail, periwinkle, plantain and less of carbohydrates.
According to ICIR, a fourth survivor has revealed that she contracted the virus from hair fixing and not from sexual intercourse.
She stated that although her husband received the news of her status with sadness, she has raised two children who are negative to the disease, sustain her marriage, and remain alive and healthy.
She emphasised: “HIV is not a deadly disease. If you take your drugs, you will live long. People are dying every day from malaria, typhoid, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases. Are we not taking the same drugs? But we take our drugs and live strong and healthy. We go anywhere we feel like going.”
Also speaking at the workshop, the Minister of Health said: “Maternal and child health is critical to the prevention of mother-to-child transmission. Three out of four pregnant women in Nigeria are not captured at antennal care, while 63 per cent HIV positive women do not access PMTCT services.” Jamb Result
ICIR reports that also speaking, Chief Consultant/Associate Professor, Paediatric Respiratory/Infectious Diseases, University of Calabar/Teaching Hospital, Atana Ewa identified HIV/AIDS as a cause of infant and childhood mortality and morbidity in Africa.
“One in every seven babies born with HIV in the world is a Nigerian baby. Because of this, there is an urgent need to scale up sustainable programmes for the elimination of vertical transmission of HIV in the country, and the government has committed to ending vertical transmission by the end of 2022.”
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