Our generation may have the greatest opportunities of all time with all the technology and relative peace, but it is also a generation being eaten up by a new weevil. New, because no generation before, has been tortured, endangered or threatened by it. This weevil is HIV AIDS. It is easy to wander why it is taking doctors and scientists all this time to get us a vaccine or drug to treat this condition. The virus has made the greatest of them scratch their heads with minimal success. The seriousness of this scourge is noticed from how not even those with political and economic clout have inhibited its spread. Amidst all emerging problems faced by the human race, HIV could be the easiest to control and eventually eradicate, only that human weakness stands in the way. Compared to terrorism, rising unemployment, grinding poverty and others, AIDS is still the one single thing that rides on our inability to control ourselves.
From the time the first case emerged in the early 1980s, it has claimed the lives of many, halved the dreams of others and broken up innumerable families on top of causing global public headache. It’s true that the stigma towards AIDS patients has reduced, and that they are now treated with compassion. However, it has blinded the eyes of many. Increasingly, an AIDS patient is difficult to identify. With the revelation of ARVs, more AIDS patients now live longer and are healthier. This poses a challenge especially to our generation. As begin to react to the feelings that come with pubescence, the chances of infection rise sharply.
The sexual network is perhaps the most inclusive in terms of gender, age and social status. Old women and men, the middle age group, university and secondary school students whether rich or poor subscribe to the sexual network. Therefore, at no time can you declare anyone HIV free. The campus girls we admire are the seasoned mistresses of the corporate class. You only have to visit the females’ halls and hostels and see the expensive cars parked outside to believe me and accept that cross-generational sex exists. Also, there is a greater number of young people who were born with the virus and are living healthy lives with it.
It takes just one sexual encounter to get infected; compare it to a shoot and hit experience. Convincing yourself that you will miss the target is like putting cheese to a fire and expecting it not to melt, or taking a boat ride on a rough see without a life jacket. The formula for protecting oneself remains the same. ABC has become a song, an over played song and I feel the threat of HIV no longer gnaws at people’s minds like it used to. Unfortunately, the threat remains as deadly as ever.
Infection rates have resurged over the last three years especially among university students and the youth in general. A multitude of initiatives may be undertaken by the government but none will revive the hope of our generation if we do not take personal responsibility to save ourselves. In the fight against HIV AIDS, no amount of effort can prove to be a plethora. Abstain, be faithful, use condoms remains the simple trick. If the whole world were to be covered by thorns, would you tarmac the entire ground? All you have to do is make your own shoes or sandles.
Coleman Ntungwerisho, 6A