“9jaHivSingles” Brings Hope
Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic in the world with more than 3.5 million people living with HIV in 2017. More disheartening is that Nigeria has the highest number of babies born with HIV! Despite this number, we are yet to come to term with this scourge. There still exists immorality questions to this disease and anybody known to be HIV positive is considered to be wayward or had led a promiscuous life in the past thereby, making them vulnerable to all sorts of discriminations.
Ms. Amina Abdulaze, a street photographer, and development practitioner was inspired by certain events around her to start up a good cause and make life better for those living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. 9ja_hivsingles; an online community not only operates a match-making scheme for companionship and love but also connects people with the opportunity to make them self-reliant and self- sustaining.
Basically, 9ja HIV singles started out as a result of her encounter with positive people… battling depression, more than half of them had a similar challenge; finding love and companionship while others found it difficult getting back on their feet after diagnosis. She discovered that the major killer of positive people (aside not taking their drugs as prescribed) is loneliness which leads to depression and most times loss of means of livelihood. As it is common that most people did not get to know their status until when they were ill.
In Nigeria, health facilities basically provide HIV positive people with drugs, and little or no further assistance on other ways of survival. After series of search and ways to matchmake people proved abortive, she decided to create her own community, providing care, psycho-social support (by providing a safe haven for people) and out of hospital counseling as well as linking them up with the opportunity to make them self-reliant.
Over time, 9jaHIVSingles has rescued and provided support for over three people who were at the verge of ending their lives. And although they started out linking only HIV positive people, now they have linked both positive and negative people alike. MS Amina states that she gets at least a request in her mail daily. And due to sensitivity she currently manages the community by herself. But in special cases, they refer clients to other units and facilities (partners) who work in similar areas.
9jahivsingles also offers their services in person asides their online operations. They decided to make it online to have a wider reach and break distance barrier. Presently, they have volunteers across the states for follow-ups, and clients can visit if they wish.
The major challenge faced by people living with HIV in finding love is trust and acceptance. Thus during the matchmaking process, background checks are carried out, and the information is adequately verified, so as not to endanger anyone. On stigma and living freely, she said “it is a battle we would continue to fight for a long time to come.. and HIV positive people would have to love themselves first by living a healthy and balanced life. I believe the moment one discovers his or her status, you become a new you. All you need to do is to take a deep breath, prepare yourself psychologically for the journey ahead, build a support system around you, then pick yourself up and embrace positive living. I know it might not be that easy at first, but it would pay off. With these, an HIV positive person would be in the position to choose who so ever he or she wants to spend the rest of their life with.”
In her last words and advice: “to curb the fast spread of this disease, routine tests should become imperative… HIV is not the end of life. It is indeed the beginning of a new and better life. I will, therefore, advise people to go get tested, and either way, the test turns out, leave positive afterward. It aches my heart to still see people die of this scourge or see children born with HIV in this time and age…”
9jahivsingle plans to be able to reach more people and provide more services. People can reach or join the community by following on Instagram @9ja_hivsingles, and via email: firstname.lastname@example.org and can contact them +234 8094239293 or call Ms. Amina personally on +234 8063074478.