Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nigeria, Facing Aids Epidemic, Moves to Control Spread of Disease

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nigeria, Facing Aids Epidemic, Moves to Control Spread of Disease

Article excerpt

Frightening statistics are coming to light on the scourge of AIDS in Nigeria, Africa's most populated nation.

Dr. Abiola Tilley-Gyado, national coordinator of the AIDS control campaign in the West African country, estimates that more than 500,000 people have the virus.

"The Nigerian epidemic was not identified until 1986," she said.

"From 1986, we have in terms of full-blown AIDS, about 971 reported cases from all over the country," she said.

Experts say that is far from the real situation in a country of 88.5 million, where most diseases are not reported and an even smaller percentage of AIDS cases are reported, because of its relative novelty and its stigma.

Tilley-Gyado's unit has carried out several kinds of surveys across the country, and the conclusions are worrying.

"If the results are computed among the sexually active group, that is those aged 15 and above, we come to the conclusion that there must be at least 650,000 HIV-infected people in the country," she said.

HIV is the virus that eventually causes AIDS, which destroys the body's natural immunity and leaves an infected person defenseless against other diseases.

In a country where one man can have several wives and as many mistresses, casual heterosexual sex has been identified as the main means for spreading the disease.

One survey of prostitutes showed that 18 percent of those tested were HIV positive in some of Nigeria's 30 states.

"In some states, if you have two commercial sex workers standing side by side, one will be HIV positive," said Tilley-Gyado. …

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