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Issue: Health and HIV/A.I.D.S.

Release Date: September 1, 2009

Video Testimony: K. Barber

Photos: Alexandra Seegers

Photo of Ganiyu

Back to School!

Before Africare I was very sick. I never thought it would have been because of HIV. I couldn’t play football and I couldn’t even go to school. But after Africare I can do anything… play football, go to school, eat very well!

Photo of GaniyuStanding just over 5 feet tall, 15-year-old Gani of Lagos, Nigeria is a young man with BIG aspirations.  He’s a whiz at government studies, a gifted chalk artist, and loves soccer! – three passions on a very long checklist of personal dreams.

“I just might be president one day,” Gani notes with a bright smile.

Gani is a young man driven by his hopes for the future; a future that came to an uncertain pause several years ago when he found himself constantly sick and getting progressively weaker. The small things he loved so dearly became more and more difficult to do.

“I couldn’t play football anymore. I couldn’t even go to school. I was scared because anytime I breathed in or breathed out the pain would start feeling so bad that I would cry. I could not even take food.”

What Gani did not know is he was sick with HIV. When he was identified by Africare-Nigeria staff through a comprehensive Health and HIV/AIDS program, he weighed just over 50 pounds (24 kg). Africare’s Technical Response to AIDS Affected Populations (TAP) project targets youth and other at-risk groups to provide basic HIV care services.  Since the project launched in 2005, Gani is one of 9,200 HIV positive patients who have been provided with basic care and support to treat their illness. Over 48,000 have received voluntary counseling and testing in an effort to identify and stop the disease from spreading.

Gani received anti-retroviral drugs to bring his symptoms under control. Today he continues to receive home-based care including nutritional education and psychological support. “Before Africare, I was not able to go to school, to go to my friends’ house or to walk. I was very sick and bad, but after Africare I was able to do many other things I could not before. I was able to go to school, walk and eat very well. Thank you and God bless Africare for providing what the people need.”

In Nigeria, many teenagers like Gani who are HIV positive “slip through the cracks” because they are not being tested—either due to denial of sexual activity or lack of knowledge that children can also have slow progressing HIV. As a result, they fall ill (and many die) because the diagnosis is missed, or denied. 

Gani’s story is one of timely intervention in the life of a sick, orphaned youth. His story has reached you – where will it go next?  Pass it on!