10 May 2006

The con artist and HIV

We have all heard it before, the sad sob story that always ends with an urgent need for some sum of money.

OD and I are friends. Although we live in the same estate, we became friends by virtue of the fact that we worked on a project together (I made his life hell!) Anyhow in the course of working together, I got to know his office boy who bears a striking resemblance to him (I suspect they are siblings). Sometime last year he came to me with some story of how he owed some call centre guy money for making calls and how that one had now seized his phone pending settlement of the debt. His hot breath is killing me, ‘how much are we talking here’ I gasp ‘N500’ he replies. I give him; it’s a small price to pay to get fresh air. I knew he would be back with a bigger story and I wasn’t disappointed yesterday.

The gist is his ‘small’ girlfriend was pregnant, got an abortion for 3k then a week later she is still bleeding (why am I not surprised), badly enough that she has to tie a towel like a nappy. He takes her to another hospital where he is told that she wasn’t properly evacuated. For 4k they would have done a better job, but now that the shit has hit the fan they will be charging 8k. The doctor refused to treat the girl till he sees cash, and he had to do some heavy toasting (like he is doing now). The long and short of the matter he needs 8k. I am thinking if you can bottle your hot breath and sell it as insect repellant you will make a lot more than 8k. ‘How the hell do you get off having unprotected sex in this day and age?’ I ask, ‘AIDS is real o, no be joke.’ He is obviously not expecting me to say this. ‘Unfortunately I don’t have N8k to give you, I am well and truly broke’ (truly) He looks crestfallen as he asks if I can help him borrow from someone against his salary which comes in on the 25th even if it’s a loan shark. Perhaps this young man isn’t lying afterall. Well it’s a risk I am not really willing to take; I don’t want to mess up my ‘credit history’, and I really don’t have 8k to dash anybody. Besides what if yawa gasses, I think he should face up to his mistakes and tell his bro. ‘You will have to tell you brother’ I tell him. ‘No I can’t, he will never let me live it down’ he replies. Well you should have thought about that when you were ‘singing in the rain’ without a coat! ‘So what are you going to do?’ I ask. ‘The doctor has given me a deadline of Friday to pay, if I can’t get the funds by then I will tell my brother’ good boy. ‘Meanwhile make sure you go see the girl in hospital today, so the doctor knows you are serious and will continue treating the girl’ ‘Thank you’ he says.

Only yesterday, I was chatting with one of the guys in HR on our way up in the elevator. Unfortunately in Nigeria, employers can decide to not offer employment based on your HIV status. Usually the last stage in the recruitment process is a medical test, the results of which you will never know. Of course you are screened for HIV. If you come back negative, that’s it, X them employing you. And they never reveal the result of that particular test to you. If you find out somewhere else, good for you, if not, … you just go on living your life in ignorance, after all what you don’t know won’t hurt you. But it can and will if you don’t take action ASAP. I don't know what I am expecting Nigerian employers to do. Its not like you can force an HIV positive person to adopt a responsible lifestyle, indeed while in secondary school, the sentiment was if a person found out their HIV status was positive ‘Won ma mu town ni’ (hit town and take as many people as they can with them) I wonder what the sentiment is now among the 12-17 age bracket. I mean with the proper education, medication and lifestyle you don’t have to die immediately, you can live a normal life, attain life expectancy age even and help contain this disease and keep it from spreading.

I am told ARV’s are free in Nigeria, and there are an abundance of NGO’s who have collected foreign funding to carry out counseling, screen and distribution of AVR’s, so why are young people in particular in this country still doing stupid things like having unprotected sex with multiple partners, and having abortions in questionable facilities? I really don’t know. A lot of adverts are on TV and radio now about AIDS/HIV awareness, targeting the youth. I have seen/heard ads featuring RuggedMan, Stella Damasus Aboderin, Sound Sultan, and Richard Mofe-Damijo. On MTV Base, every other advert is about HIV/AIDS. HIV screening is a big deal here. When I did my medical tests pursuant to being employed at my bank, I tipped the lab technician who took my blood sample and gave him my phone number so he could inform me on my HIV status once the results were in. He was very nice (even if he did prove to be a bit of a pest), he actually made a copy of the whole medical test for me to peruse. In the case of HIV/AIDS, what you don't know will hurt your HIV status I beleive is your concern and that of your community. While I don't expect a person to carry a banner saying they are HIV positive, I do expect them to be responsible enough to know their status and help contain the spread of HIV


Ore said...

I think if a person tests positive following a medical test for a job, the responsible thing for the employer would be to tell them. They can have the doctor or a counsellor tell them, but for them to know and not say anything is very wrong, imo.

But, you're right though. People need to take more responsibility for themselves. If you're old enough to have sex, then you're definitely old enough to take the necessary precautions and look after yourself.

Sewere said...

Nitori Olorun! How can people be so abusive that they so ably flaunt laws as if it's nothing. Nigeria is part of the signatory to the WHO, World Medical Association and countless other organizations that state clearly that a patient is guaranteed privacy of information whenever they receive any type of service from medical personnel. These laws are stated clearly but companies know that the kind of dire "man pikin must to chop" situation that most folks are in, no one is willing and/or capable to sue their fat asses.

Even if they are allowed to discriminate on the basis of HIV status, they are still ethically obligated to inform the person that he or she is HIV positive. Abi ko si eni ti o ni anu omo eni keji mo?

Abi they are using the "Secretly find out but don't tell" policy as an end-run to avoid a discrimination suit...

HIV+DaveyBoy said...

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2undeh said...

Good post on the perils associated with HIV/AIDs. The con story was amusing.