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HEALTH FOCUS

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THE NIGHTMARE HIV/AIDS

The situation of the pandemic HIV/AIDS should be everyone’s concern, reasons why it is eminent to seek lasting solutions. The importance of providing accurate media coverage on HIV/AIDS should be the duty of Media Practitioners to disseminate such information. Giving that AIDS in many respect is a disease of ignorance and intolerance, communication programming represents the key ingredients in the ‘Social Vaccine’ against HIV/AIDS.

Whenever we are faced with a dangerous disease for which there is no immediate cure, the general population is immediately at the mercy of Medical Scientist to whom they look for hope and news about possible cures and preventive measures. Every word that comes out of the mouth of such Researchers becomes very important: it can mean hope or panic.

It is therefore important that those who work in the area of public health in particular and vaccine trails, as well handle AIDS control policies and strategies, be given the opportunity to communicate their works, and this in a manner is likely to promote support, goodwill and understanding in the general population.

Journalist are perceived as the watchdogs of the society, checking the powerful and the priviledged against abuse, deceit and disinformation. The pursuit of answers to questions surrounding AIDS control policies, or HIV vaccine development/ trials and possible remedies is the corner stone of the Medias' watchdog mission.

The issue of HIV/AIDS is a very intricate one, considering the fact that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) / Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) have been ravaging many people especially in Sub- Saharan Africa.
As Statisticians proclaimed; in spite of the fact that more than 4 million condoms have been shipped to Sub- Saharan Africa as preventive measures, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS still rate highest in this region.

According to December 2008 reports on’ The Global AIDS Epidemic’ by the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Sub- Saharan Africa remains the region most heavily affected by HIV, accounting for 67 percent of all people around the world living with HIV and for 75 percent of AIDS deaths in 2007.

Going by global and regional trends, some 33 million (30-36 million) people were living with HIV as of 2007; 2 million (1.9-2.3 million) of them were children under 15 years, and about 15.5 million (14.2-16.9 million) were women.

Globally, AIDS is among the leading causes of death and has already caused an estimated 25 million deaths. Every day, over 7,400 persons becomes infected with HIV and about 5,500 persons die from AIDS, mostly because of inadequate access to HIV prevention care and treatment services.

Roughly 15 million (13-19 million) children under the age of eighteen have lost one or both parents to AIDS, and millions more have been affected, with a vastly increased risk of poverty, homelessness, school drop-out, discrimination, and loss of life opportunities. Theses hardships include illness and death. Of the estimated 2 million (1.8-2.3 million) people who died of AIDS- related illnesses in 2007, 270,000(250,000-290,000) of them were children under fifteen years old.

Global estimates show that the number of children living with HIV continues to increase steadily, from 2001 to 2007, the number of children living with HIV increased from 1.6 million (1.4 -2.1 million) to 2 million (1.9-2.3 million). Almost 90 percent of these children live in Sub- Saharan Africa.

Most of the tramission of HIV/AIDS in Sub- Saharan Africa occurs in heterosexual relationships, both in the context of transactional and commercial sex and in longer term relationships including marrage. As a contrast, in virtually all other regions, HIV disproportionately affects injecting drug users, homosexuals and sex workers.

Young people age 15 to 24 accounts for an estimated 45 percent of new HIV infections worldwide. In Sub-Saharan Africa young women aged 15 to 24 are three times more likely to be affected than their male counterparts. In four regions - South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, East Asia and the pacific, and Central and Eastern/ Central Asia, there are more young men who are HIV positive than young women. This reflects the differences in risk behaviours, which requires that interventions be tailored to fit the nature and dynamic of the epidemic.

Beware! HIV/AIDS is reality.

By Cecile N. Enie

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