What is the first word that comes to your mind, when you think about safe sex and contraception? Mine is education. The second, taboo. In a country like Nigeria, where patriarchy is still strong and women have less chances to develop professionally, where the cultural beliefs are hard to defeat and to renew, contraception is a big taboo and it is often related to promiscuity.
Even in developed countries mentality is not particularly advanced in the sexual field, mostly due to the fact that the ‘hot’ topic was unveiled later with the revolutions of the 1970s and 80s. Italy is a good example of a developed country with deep religious roots, which saw the empowerment of women and laws such as divorce and abortion, later in time compared to its Northern neighbors. Sexual education is nowadays introduced in the Italian education system – even I remember the experts who came to enlighten us about sexual diseases and contraception.
Sexual education is a very delicate issue to deal with, especially in less “open-minded” countries that often believe in ‘the less you know, the less you try’.
Is ignorance really that effective?
The data regarding the Nigerian population reveals the opposite. In June 2013 The National Agency for the Control of AIDS declared that 3.4 million Nigerians were living with HIV/AIDS. The agency’s Director-General, Prof. John Idoko, said that only 18% of HIV positive women received prophylaxis against mother-child transmission, noting that more than 40 per cent of HIV positive people did not know their status.
As Senate President, David Mark, pointed out, there is a strong need of education about HIV and other sexual diseases. But most of all there’s a pressing need to stop discrimination against people with HIV which would bring, in return, more light upon the issue and more health controls on the victims.