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Valentine’s Day: More Nigerians infected with HIV, STIs after celebration

By Maria Famakinwa

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It seems many have misinterpreted the reason for celebrating Valentine’s Day which is done in honour of a martyr named Saint Valentine who died for the love of others. The day is celebrated to show platonic love to others by giving out gifts and showing kindness, in demonstration of what Saint Valentine lived and died for. It is not a day to engage in casual sex that puts one’s health at risk.

Some Nigerians, especially youths, under the guise of celebrating Valentine engage in illegal sexual acts which contribute to the risk of contracting HIV. Investigation revealed that most people tested positive to HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) after festivities and Valentine’s Day celebration.

According to findings, national HIV prevalence is 2.1% (95% CI: 1.5–2.7%) among adults aged 15–49 years in Nigeria, which corresponds to approximately two million people living with HIV, compared to previous national HIV prevalence estimates of 1.4% from the 2018 NAIIS and UNAIDS estimation and projection package PLHIV estimation of 1.8 million in 2022.

The Director General National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) Dr Gambo Aliyu, last December urged Nigerians to engage in responsible and safe sexual behaviour during the festive season to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. He further warned that unsafe and unclean sexual activities could significantly heighten the risk of HIV transmission and other STIs.

The Hope spoke with some youths on how they would keep themselves safe while celebrating Valentine’s Day. An undergraduate, Ms Idera Adedoyin, hinted that she is too busy with her project to think about celebrating Valentine, aside the fact that she does not like the way some students celebrate valentine day.

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 She said: “The way some students celebrate Valentine’s Day discourages me from participating in the celebration. Besides, I am very busy with my project which is my Valentine for now. It is always a special day in my campus, as some students will not bother coming for lectures on that day. You will see  most students today appearing half naked. Some are going for hook ups, some traveling  to other states to celebrate with their sugar daddies and there are different parties organized for Valentine celebration.

“For me, I don’t see February 14 as a different day. I don’t even bother myself about it. Besides, I stay with my aunt off campus and she is the no-nonsense type. Though I can still have my way if I want to, I don’t like the way most students celebrate Valentine and I must be very careful not to be a victim of circumstances.”

A  Corps member, Adesoji Ayika, who explained that celebrating Valentine day is good at least to show someone that you care, however, advised that one should celebrate with caution because HIV is real. The man revealed that his mother, a nurse, always warned him not to toy with his health that many people especially youths are testing positive to HIV and STIs.

He said: “I have observed that people become more vulnerable during celebrations except for the careful ones. I will celebrate Valentine because it reminds me of showing selfless love to others but I will do that with caution. My mother is a nurse and has never stopped telling her children how HIV/AIDs is preventing victims from achieving their life goals. Most people’s interpretation of Valentine days celebration is engaging in sexual immorality with anybody without caring about  the HIV status of such. I am very sure that some people will surely contract either HIV or STIs after today’s Valentine celebration. I am sacred anytime my mother call to tell me about how the number of patients with HIV and STIs keep increasing among  youths. The statistics are there for anybody to google. Not that I am against celebrating Valentine day but my sermon is for people to be watchful. I have my plan for today but I will celebrate with caution.”

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The Corps member who added that young men and ladies risk being used for ritual aside contracting disease, narrated how a lady was used two years ago during Valentine celebration. He said: “The lady told her friends that she would be celebrating Valentine with her boyfriend in Oyo State only for her body to be dumped close to the campus a week after she travelled. There are also instances where young men after being drunk were taken to ritualists to be used. People want to survive the harsh economy by all means and might hide under Valentine celebration to perpetrate their evil thoughts,” he warned.

Another undergraduate, Adeniran Salami, who insisted that valentine day is once in a year said that he would join his friends to celebrate  but would be very careful of his safety. He said: “I don’t want to miss today’s celebration  since it comes once in a year. My friends are organizing get-together for the celebration though, low-key but I must be there. I don’t see anything wrong in enjoying the day with my friends.”

When reminded that Valentine’s day celebration is all about platonic love hence the need to celebrate with safety,  he said: “I will try as much as I can to be more careful while celebrating. I understand that some of my friends have already booked for beers but I will not partake in it and the only way to achieve this is by leaving the place early but I cannot miss the show because celebrating valentine’s day to me is like celebrating Christmas. That is why we organised  the get-together to show ourselves that we care and love one another.”

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An undergraduate, who simply gave her name as Adebunmi, also sees nothing wrong in Valentine day’s  celebration which she described as the best day to give gifts to your love. The lady who also emphasized the need to celebrate with caution revealed that she would be visiting friends to make the celebration memorable.

Her words: “I am very happy that it is valentine day. It is a day to show those I love how much I love them and I am very happy witnessing today’s celebration. Me and my friends will  be going to  eatery,  according to our earlier plan to make today special. We want to exchange gifts among ourselves, dance, sing just to make ourselves happy.”

When told to celebrate with caution because of HIV, she  laughed and said that she is aware that some youths are living with the disease and added that Valentine’s  celebration is not about engaging in sex but showing someone unconditional love,” she said.

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Valentine’s Day: More Nigerians infected with HIV, STIs after celebration

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Valentine’s Day: More Nigerians infected with HIV, STIs after celebration

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