In some African countries, there is massive evidence to show that the perceptions about HIV and Disability bears some socio-cultural and religious bearings. Some of these beliefs and perceptions are:
1. HIV and Disability are a punishment from God.
2. HIV and Disability is caused by witchcraft.
3. HIV is an alien disease imported by the west to reduce the growing population of Africans.
4. HIV does not exist.
5. HIV can be cured by having Sexual Intercourse with a virgin (Virgin cleansing) and since Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) are perceived to be Asexual (without sexual feelings), they become victims of sexual violence.
These constructions and many others have exacerbated the oppression, stigma and discrimination faced by Persons living with HIV and Disability. Arguably this impacts negatively in the uptake of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART, HIV Treatment) among Persons with Disability. The questions then remain?
How do we end HIV as a public health threat by 2030 if we do not understand the lived experiences of PWDs regarding ART which promotes viral suppression (reduction of HIV in the blood)?
This is a question that my novel PhD research (Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) among Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Nigeria) hopes to answer in the Nigerian context. The findings are envisaged to provide some direction in terms of HIV and disability inclusion programming and research for government, academics and development partners. As Nigeria plans towards the implementation of its brand-new Disability law, my research is arguably positioned to support the process.
It was humbling to be featured on @onlyhuman102.1 a program at @4zzzradio (Queensland’s longest-running FM radio station having been around since 1975) to speak on my PhD research and offer some insights on how HIV and Disability intersect.
Special thanks to Dr. Naomi Stekelenburg for pitching my research and organising the interview.
Cc: @qutrealworld, @who, @unitednationshumanrights, @unitednations @nacanigeria @theasovilla