A senior official of Gambia’s Security Services was recently denied entry in Egypt after he was diagnosed with HIV, the virus which Scientists say causes Aids. The officer named withheld for ethical reasons was among a team of  Security officers to attend a training program in Egypt. Well placed sources who spoke to the Freedom Newspaper said the officer whose wife died of HIV, received an embarrassing reception after he was handed with deportation orders by authorities in Egypt  to leave their soil within 24 hours. Egypt is one of the African countries enforcing mandatory HIV/Aids test. The idea they said was intended to prevent aids sufferers from entering their country. Despite concerns raised over such a forced HIV/Aids test Egypt is still adamant over their mandatory HIV test.

The said Security official was recently promoted by President Yahya Jammeh to man a key position in the country’s security forces. Investigations mounted by this paper reveals that the concerned officer also lost his wife in the recent past in a car crash. The HIV infected officer used to have two wives one of whom was also diagnosed with HIV. While his HIV status is being treated under the carpet at this hour by the Security Command in Banjul the nation’s main Capital sources said some” service men are already aware of the officer’s  HIV status.”

Sources reaching this paper  said the infected officer has off late lost weight and is doing everything humanely possible to avoid discrimination. Faced with anxiety and worry the officer who is entrusted with a major position needs counselling at this hour. He needs to be counselled on positive living and the use of condoms when having an affair with his partner(s).

The Security Command in question should be bold enough to help their infected colleague and to  avoid discriminating against him. Many Gambian HIV patients have died in recent years due to stigma and discrimination. The infected service man could  be of  great use to the Security forces and the country at large if encourage to come out in the open to tell us about his HIV status, as the late HIV patient Lamin Ceesay did. There are many HIV patients in our midst who are hiding their status due to the hostile environment in the country. People need to change their attitude towards HIV patients.

We are pretty sure that the Security Command never briefed President Jammeh about the infected officer who was recently deported from Egypt due to his HIV status. Offcouse, the President need to know about this development. The officer’s case is one out of hundreds of security men and women living with the virus. We have suggested in the past for this government to initiate voluntary HIV test especially in cabinet and those manning key positions.

Aids is usually spread by those in key positions in Africa as they often used their offices to solicit sexual favours. Most of these government officials engaged in risky sexual behaviours. Our poor girls dared asked them to put on condoms before having sex with them. As a result of this, many girls are infected with HIV. The Jammeh government needs to declare an all out war to tackle HIV/Aids. It should start from their own house before Gambians and other aids partners can take them seriously.

The officer’s wife died of HIV, but yet he never bothered to do an HIV test to establish his status. The Government’s aids testing centre, the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital also never bothered to invite the officer for an HIV test after knowing fully well that his wife died of HIV/Aids. In The Gambia, government doctors hardly tell couples about their HIV status. There are instances where Mrs.X is diagnosed with HIV and the husband is never informed about it. They would  tell you by disclosing the HIV status of the woman, the husband would divorce the wife. What is more deadly  than trying to conceal a dreadful disease like HIV/AIDS? To some extent, our health workers also contributed to the spread of HIV in the country.

It’s a shame that the officer was told about his status by a foreign government. By the way, do we know how many women this officer had slept with in the past 12 months? Was he using condom during his past sexual activities?

Here we need the intervention of the National Aids Secretariat, which is headed by the President. The Security Command should refer their infected officer to the Aids Secretariat known as (NAS) for counselling. If  need be, the officer concerned to try and get touch with the Group called “Gambian Living With HIV.” locally known as the Santayalla Society Group. It’s suicidal for the security command to hide the officer’s status at this hour. The officer can still retain his job despite his HIV/Aids status. The President himself assured Gambians that HIV patients would not be sacked from his government because of their AIDS status.

It would be embarrassing if the Freedom Newspaper decides to pinpoint the officer in the open. We are giving the Security Command the benefit of the doubt to put their house in order. Failure of which, then we would publish the officer’s name and position in the security forces. No one should blame us for such a move. We have contacts at NAS and the Santayalla Society to verify if the officer has been  enlisted into their list of infected HIV patients. The officer’s infection should not be made secret. It should be made public. We at the Freedom Newspaper cares about the health of Gambians and shall expose any form of conspiracy to hide ones HIV status because of position and wealth.

Posted on Monday, December 25, 2006 (Archive on Monday, January 29, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI

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