HIV/AIDS exists in Canada save that it is not much publicized as in Africa. Despite being a danger, how an individual protects him or herself against HIV, remains personal. Nobody makes noise to anybody about it. Media ads on HIV/AIDS and its dangers are not as traumatizing, cultural destructive or monotonous as in Africa. This is because Canada has no donors to attract by blowing the issue out of proportion.
In many African countries, sadly, pornographic adverts are aired without underscoring the truth and danger that this may cause. They end up being catalysts for promiscuous and related acts, turning our kids and youth into experimental guinea pigs.
Many NGOs and governments know this danger too well. But due to their greed for donor funds, they ignore the truth. Figures are cooked and inflated. In Tanzania for example, nobody knows the exact number of HIV/AIDs victims. Every NGO has its own figures and statistics based on creating fear and attracting donors!
Many medical trials are carelessly conducted on Africans! Authorities condone this under the pretext of fighting HIV/AIDS! How do we trust the same guys behind the creation of the malady? We give them our secrets and statistics so as to be vulnerable! If anything, this lust for money has become another danger which is bigger than HIV/AIDS itself.
I have neither seen condoms being advertised here nor adverts which cross the line being pumped to the media as it is back home. Do we know that pumping dirty adverts cause many miseries to our young ones that we condemn for cultural erosion?
Much money is spent on these adverts and money-making seminars and conferences whilst the victims are dying without any help. Hither is where I concur with those agitating for stamping out poverty and corruption, the vices enhanced by donors who support and give money to corrupt regimes.
In Tanzania, TACAIDS, the commission responsible for HIV/AIDS-like the government of the day alleged to squander money on expensive oil guzzlers whilst the victims are dying of lack of simple drugs for elongating life! Super scale salaries are paid to do nothing but make money for TACAIDS officials!
In Canada, due to advanced and reliable medical facilities-cum services, you can not feel the presence of HIV/AIDS. This does not imply that the scourge is absent. It exists, but the figures are not known. This is because under Canadian Law, private information is protected.
One incident in Montreal late last year unearthed a very gloomy reality. It was discovered that som people in the country do not know HIV/AIDS! This happened when one doctor discovered that some secondary school students were infected with AIDS. But to his shock, they did not know what AIDS was! These findings forced the doctor to alert the people of such reality. And the media was urged to put more efforts to educate the general public. The doctor again found that at least three cases are discovered at his hospital everyday.
HIV/AIDS is a menace. But like in Canada, Africa needs to address it in a transparent, decent and humanistic way in lieu of commercial rust aimed at vending the souls and bodies of the victims as it has always been the case of governments of Africa when it comes to attend their citizenry.
The fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa has become a means of minting money. Take a leaf guys else we shall perish unnecessarily.
Source: The African Executive Magazine January 30, 2008.
By Nkwazi Mhango
Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He is a Journalist, Poet, Teacher, Human Rights activist and member of the Writers' Alliance of New Foundland and Labrador (WANL)