A Gambian hustler, roughly aged 50 years returned from Angola where he has been hustling for many years. He is now rich. Just as every man has a good taste for young women, he decided to marry a 19 year old girl. By the way, 19 is an adult (so no big deal). A few months later, the 19 year old girl got pregnant. As part of routine tests for all pregnant women in Gambia, she was counselled and tested for HIV and results came back positive!
A young 19 year old woman, who has her whole life ahead of her, has her life devastated forever by a man/ a partner/ a husband who knows quite well that he has HIV/AIDS.
In the 21st century, it is sad and pathetic that the Government of the Gambia, health authorities and civil society organizations decide to bury their ‘brains’ in a mass grave and make laws that, not only does not protect us, but continue to endanger our lives every day!
A few months ago, the health ministry went to the extent of revealing names and identities of Covid positive patients on the mass media because they have absconded. Why disclose them? Because they pose an imminent public health risk! To put it simply, they will infect others and put their lives at risk!
Yet, funnily, everyone knows how serious HIV/AIDs is, yet, in the Gambia, the law protects HIV/AIDs patients and they have no obligation to reveal their status to their partners even though a Grade 6 student knows clearly that a HIV infected patient poses a 100% risk to his sexual partners.
Do we have to wait till 2021, to say: Gambians wake up!
Protecting HIV/AIDs infected patients from stigma and discrimination is hugely important. However, to think that the current Gambia law on HIV/AIDs ensures such protection is, not only self-deceiving but a fuel to an epidemic that is getting out of control.