Sunday, January 15, 2012
INTERVIEWING HEALTH WORKERS AND NON HEALTH WORKERS ON THEIR PERCEPTION TOWARDS HIV/AIDS IN NIGERIA.
In Nigeria HIV/AIDS is still seen as a disease for a certain people, people who are sinners, fornicators, adulterers therefore they have to be segregated, yes this stigmatization might not be voiced out but the smell of it is all over the place, unfortunately health workers champion all forms of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria ranging from denying health services to people living with HIV/AIDS to the manner and attitude they exhibit to these patients, confidentiality is history, people test HIV positive and the next moment everyone in the community hears about the person’s HIV status.
I came back to my country Nigeria late December 2011 after being away for sometime and I took a personal survey on health workers approach and perception towards people living with HIV, I further ascertained from the ordinary people outside the health sector about their perception towards people living with HIV/AIDS. Though I did not carry out an analysed statistical detailed survey I interviewed health workers and other people on this.
To my astonishment I found out that majority of our health workers do not even believe in treatment of HIV patients, they just give HAART because they are told to do so, this belief affects the counselling delivered to the patients, patients that are supposed to be encouraged by health workers are not. Some health workers don’t believe that HAART works properly and they discourage sero-discordant couples instead of counselling them on safer sex practice, Family planning and reproductive health management.
HIV couples are not given proper attention on family planning and most health workers claimed that they lack knowledge of family planning for people living with HIV, most of the health workers never knew of PEP post exposure prophylaxis which is meant to be either occupational or non-occupational. I had a talk with a nurse and he told me he discourages sero discordant couples from having sex forgetting the fact that sex is a natural instinct in man and sex is a right not a privilege.
On another interview with a laboratory technician practising in a private hospital, she told me that people living with HIV should be left with no drugs so that they die off, when I asked reasons for her opinion, she said that some patients she knew because of HAART live healthy lives and they go ahead to have sex with other HIV free people therefore spreading HIV.
Talking with a retired nurse in her home she narrated to me how she despised people living with HIV, she told me of about 6 people that died of AIDS in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. She still had the mentality that ART was just given for giving sake and that any infected person must surely die of AIDS. She told me that once upon a time a HIV patient died in their hospital and people avoided going for treatment in that hospital for so many months because an HIV patient died there. After that incident they began to chase away people living with HIV from their hospital.
After having interactions with health workers I interviewed non health workers and their response were baffling, a few agreed that HIV can be treated and managed though no cure yet while majority openly said that they will never have anything to do with any person living with HIV.
Funny enough both health workers and non health workers showed very low knowledge, attitude and practise on HIV/AIDS management. I tried finding out if there was this habit of people going for voluntary HIV testing and the response was extremely poor. Most people only went for HIV screening when they were sick, mandated to, during antenatal checks or before marriage.This implies that most people I interviewed did not even know their current HIV status and they were very repulsive towards relating with people living HIV.
With this study I found out that there is still great need for orientation of both health workers and the masses at large on HIV /AIDS management, there is need for training and retraining of health workers. We need to know facts about HIV intervention, control and treatment, people are misled, misinformed and uninformed on issues concerning HIV/AIDS, a lot of people are still dwelling in the past and believe strongly that HIV/AIDS is untreatable and incurable. Issues on correct and consistent use of condom, regular voluntary HIV counselling and testing must be addressed.
Our government is full of corruption and the ministry of health/NACA national action committee on AIDS is doing nothing on these issues, they are rather making unrealistic budgets, ghost projects carrying out ineffective and inefficient workshops and seminars without any positive impact due to lack of supervision, lack of proper monitoring and evaluation.