It was recently reported in the media that the federal government was working towards enacting a law that would make it mandatory for intending couples to go for the Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV) test before being allowed to wed in churches and mosques.
The move, it was reported, was part of measures to curb the spread of the deadly virus in the country. In this edition of Viewpoint, our reporter, Oladejo Adebayo, went out to ask the opinions of people on the purported scheme. Their reactions are presented below.
FG should bring back our girls first
I think the problem with the federal government is that of misplaced priority. There are so many pressing challenges facing the nation and the government can’t find a solution to any of them; yet they keep coming out with a series of unnecessary laws that are not beneficial to the people.
Come to think of it, is that the real thing bothering us in this country? There are lots of things that need to be done. How far have we gone with the issue of insecurity of lives and properties? What has the federal government done about the abducted Chibok Girls that have been in captivity for more than three months? Can’t they do something about the incessant bombing and kidnapping that has turned the country to a ‘no go’ area for visitors and investors? I think the federal government should mind their business and leave the intending couples alone.
Again, I think the issue of HIV/AIDS is being overhyped in this part of the world because it is not really a major threat like that – unlike so many other diseases that we do not even care about.
Another reason I do not support the plan has to do with the issue of stigmatisation. How do we handle the challenge of stigmatisation that is bound to ensue, if the status of people living with HIV is exposed? So, I think the move should not be made compulsory; rather it should be for those who are interested in it.
– Titilope Balogun (Akure, Ondo State)
It’s a good move
I think the federal government is right on this one. The HIV/AIDS burden globally is worrisome and something drastic should be done to reduce its spread. Majority of people still do not believe that HIV/AIDS is incurable; while some have been brainwashed to think that the HIV campaign is just a strategy by the World Health Organisation to discourage the rate at which people engage in sexual intercourse. So, this is a good move and I am sure it will guard against the spread of the virus.
However, this step must be followed up with intensive awareness programme by the various health organisations, as this will go a long way in reducing the menace. The awareness programme should cover the stigmatisation aspect, so as to avoid people living with the disease dying as a result of depression and shame. The reason most people are afraid to go for HIV/AIDS test or counselling is due to the way people perceive things like that in our society. It is so bad to the extent that once people know that you are an HIV patient, they see you as an outcast, and that alone kills faster than the disease itself. So the government should do something about it. In my own opinion, the plan is good and should be passed into law without hindrance.
Lambe, Ogun State
Test should not be compulsory
Have we not seen couples who were not HIV positive before they got married but became positive after marriage, due to some reasons? I think the federal government should analyse policies before making them public.
We are living in a society where sanctity of marriage is no longer respected and extra-marital affairs are now rampant. Why can’t the federal government start tackling it from that angle? What if the couples refuse to do official marriage, won’t they still raise children after paying the dowry? I think Nigerians need policies that have direct, positive impacts on the masses and not all these borrowed laws from the western world. As much as I would have loved the law because it would enable intending couples to know their status, Nigeria is not yet ripe for this type of thing.
Besides, I don’t support the mandatory aspect of it because marriage is a union between two people who have agreed to come together, to love each other and to care for each other. So, the issue of HIV testing before marriage is a secondary thing. Also, I don’t see any reason HIV should be an issue before marriage because healthcare has gone beyond that. It is possible for couples who are infected to lead normal lives and still give birth to healthy children.
In my opinion, it is a right step but with a wrong approach because it should not be made compulsory.
– Oyeniran Kemi
No big deal, some churches do it already
I don’t think there is any big deal about the law because some churches have been doing it for years. For example, in my own church, anybody getting married must present the results for HIV, blood group and genotype tests. So, if the federal government is starting the same thing, it is a welcome development.
My only fear is that the law may not work properly in this country because the government may not be able to enforce it, especially in the rural areas. It is also possible for couples to forge results and present such, in order to get approval.
Moreover, I think the solution to the increasing rate of HIV/AIDS in the country is not mandating intended couples to get tested; rather, the government should embark on awareness and enlightenment programme for the people. Many people only get to hear about HIV/AIDS on radio and television but do not really believe it is real. So, the government and other organisations that have one or two things to do with theHIV/AIDS campaign should be pragmatic in their activities by organising series of awareness and enlightenment programmes on the disease.
– Bankole Damilola
Ishaga, Lagos State