Across Nigeria, the silence denied truth about sexuality that increases the vulnerability of same sex practicing persons is being broken. Bold men and women from within the LGBTI community and allies are beginning to recognize that combating the epidemic head on means get everyone involved. For far too long this denied truth has cost the lives of same sex practicing persons. I can recall that this year alone, 5 death of same sex practicing person due to AIDS-related illness came to my attention. The question this leaves in my mind is “what about those cases that do not get to the attention of LGBTI organization and other AIDS service provision organizations due to the stigma related to AIDS and sexual orientation?
Today, Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark this year WORLD AIDS DAY, I am beginning to wonder if as a country, Nigeria is really committed to make the country, HIV – free or bring the spread of the disease under control. Globally fever than 1 in 20 men who have sex with man have no access to HIV prevention, care and treatment program. The bitter truth for Nigeria in that the lack of HIV/AIDS control program for men who have sex with men could reverse the giant strides made in the efforts to combat the disease.
LGBTI organization in Nigeria with the help of international donors are beginning to take the bold steps in providing these services to members of the same sex practicing community especially men who have sex men. The vulnerability same sex practicing persons are already experience is a key factor to the spread of the disease in the community.
As Nigeria reflects on the gains made in the fight against HIV there is the need to pay more attention to the same sex practicing community. We must understanding that same sex practicing persons also engage in opposite sex practices for societal acceptance. Whether they men who have sex with men or woman who have sex with women. Government must realize that its efforts in fighting the epidemic might be totally reversed if it does not address homosexuality. At this point when all hands are to be involved in the fight, women who have sex with women get no attention to their need for HIV prevention, care and treatment. This need to be addressed urgently.
Addressing this problem, also means addressing laws that contribute to the vulnerability if an already marginalized and vulnerable persons. Laws that encourage societal stigma and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation need be repealed or abolished.
Government and indeed the whole of service providers must take cognizance of the fact that AID and homosexuality be discussed. Realizing that the sooner we talk about this 2 issues in our offices, schools, halls of government, in fact everywhere, the more lives we can saves and curtail the spread of disease.
It is therefore time that the HIV prevention, care and treatment services available be targeted at all Nigeria citizen irrespective of sexual orientation in our guess for the HIV-free nation and generation we all yearn for.