Girls Bear Most Of The HIV Cases in NIgeria
Anestimated 61% of new HIV cases in Nigeria occur among girls andwomen, Babatunde Oshotimehin, director-general of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, said recently at a one-day conference, the Vanguard/AllAfrica.com reports.
According to Oshotimehin, women are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDSbecause of their inability to speak out against some sexual practices that putthem at risk of the disease. He added that the "gender distance"between men and women in Nigeriamakes it difficult for women to protect themselves from contracting the virus. Oshotimehinsaid that the spread of HIV could be "easily tamed" if women wereempowered to negotiate safer sex with their partners. He called on women in thecountry to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS, as well as gender inequality.
"Today, the burden of the disease in terms of care and support of thoseliving with the virus is the responsibility of the women across ourcontinent," Oshotimehin said, adding, "So when you look at thestatistics, and you look at how the disease affects our women, it is importantthat we put women at the center of the control of this virus."
Ramatu Bala Usman, president of the National Councilof Women Societies,at the conference said the involvement of women in the fight against HIV/AIDSwill help reduce the spread of the disease. "It is in [women's] collectiveinterest to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS because we are the most infected andaffected." She added that NCWS is affiliated with 250 groups that can"carry the campaign to the grassroots." NCWS is "not justcomposed of educated elites but ... also include the uneducated women in therural areas," Usman said, adding, "It is easier for us to penetratethe rural areas because we speak their language and they understand us more"(Shaibu, Vanguard/AllAfrica.com, 3/27).
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