Udongo Itiaita, HIV/AIDS Education Handbook

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

There is a worldwide search and research for an antidote for the HIV/AIDS anathema. As a result, everyone eagerly waits the day that the wonder pill would be discovered. Perhaps that is why scientists, pseudo-scientists, trado-medical doctors, presidents (the Guinean president) and all manner of wannabes claim that they have the magic formulae for a disease that officially made its debut in 1981 and which has claimed more than 40million lives worldwide.

While some are involved in this race, as if on a rescue mission as the discoverers of the cure for the HIV/AIDS scourge, others seem more interested in throwing more light on the penumbra of ignorance and arrogance that is the AIDS pandemic. Udongo Itiaita (meaning HIV/AIDS in Akwa-Ibom language), a 112-page, twelve-chapter book is a document co-authored by Charles Anyiam-Osigwe and Grace Okudo at the instance of the Akwa-Ibom state government.

At once, after a reading of the book, one comes off with the impression that this is a radical departure from the run-of-the-mill treaties that prescribe paternalistic, holier-than-thou admonitions on how to stay free from getting infected with HIV infection. The authors expended the fist six of its chapters in providing relevant and up-to-date data, and a review of general knowledge, transmission and prevention, symptoms and testing, truths and semi-truths, including care and support for those living with AIDS. Based on the information provided in every chapter of the book, they constructed two kinds of questions, the multiple choice questions, MCQ, and structured questions to test the reader’s knowledge on the information provided. In the last six chapters of the book beginning from chapter seven, answers to the posers in the preceding chapters were supplied, maybe to prod the reader to want to find out if he or she knows the answers to the questions asked.

This is a book that looks like one prepared for secondary school students, what with the quiz-cum-semi-omniscient-narrative-technique, but which should be in homes, hotels, bars, offices, mosques and churches, as an indispensable ally and compass, mostly to navigate the uncertain waters of an ennui that is awash with all manner of cultural and religious belief systems. Udongo Itiaita has simplicity of style, relevance of subject matter and the universality of theme, that ‘’knowledge makes for good health, ignorance may result in death’’. The slight problem the book has, however, is that its title, Udongo Itiaita, is in the language of the people of Akwa-Ibom. With such sensitive and relevant information to share in a style that should appeal to the high and low, the authors have no business with an ethnic title, probably because of the quip that, AIDS no dey show for face.

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