Community, Op-Ed, Politics

Ekene Odigwe: Nigeria’s exclusion of the LGBTIQ community from the National HIV discourse

According to Dr Aliyu of NACA 900,000 Nigerians are on HIV Treatment while 700, 000 funding comes from USAID.

Let me see if I can break this down, the fact is South Africa has the largest antiretroviral treatment (ART) programme globally and these efforts have been largely financed from its own domestic resources. The country now invests more than $1.5 billion annually to run its HIV and AIDS Programmes so it’s Government driven while Nigeria, the Giant of Africa with HIV prevalence rate among adults ages 15-49 is 3.17 percent and the second-largest number of people living with HIV is vastly donor dependent. Most if not all our interventions and resources are from funders and Donors. Recently Information reveals that significant global support for HIV/AIDs in Nigeria has been withdrawn.

The question is what becomes the fate of 3.4 million Nigerians living with the infection in a country where there is no real political will, no real intervention spearheaded by the Federal Government and violence against LGBTQI people is frequent. The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act criminalizes all forms of same-sex unions and same-sex marriage throughout the country, To this end human life is politicized neglecting that health is a human right that must be upheld and as humans irrespective of our political affiliations, race, sexual orientation, religious inclination, gender and status. We must continue to empower, educate, and support ourselves and each other in our work against AIDS.

Is Nigeria even ready to join the global community as they work tirelessly to achieve that 90% of people living with HIV are diagnosed by 2020, 90% of diagnosed people placed on antiretroviral treatment by 2020 and 90% of people in treatment with fully suppressed viral load by 2020

This year and every year on World AIDS Day, we remember the lives lost to this epidemic and the voices of those who stood against it. With advances in biomedicine and mobilized communities, we are closer to achieving global targets in epidemic control than ever before. However, until we are able to eliminate structural barriers and provide easy access to life-saving medicines, social services, and basic care for those who need it most especially the Key Affected Populations / Most At Risk Persons we will not see an end to AIDS.

Nsogbu dikwa!


Ekene Odigwe is a multiple award winning Nigerian talk show host, Radio & TV Content Developer. He is also a Human Rights & HIV Advocate and a 2017 BAF Media Justice fellow.


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