Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Betty Irabor on HIV

Interesting perspective/attitude on HIV and how contraction/testing works from Betty Irabor, editor of Genevieve. Click on the image to read it. I will leave my readers to read and leave comments. I suspect this one may be controversial!


Anonymous,  6:36 pm  

This is totally hideous. What is the matter with these Nigerian female magazine editors. How ignorant. I wonder how the women will feel reading this. she definitely needs some HIV awareness training.

Anonymous,  7:21 pm  


MsMak,  8:37 pm  

I am so, so disappointed! I kept thinking that by the end of the story, there would be a lesson about not always rushing to panic and imagine the worst when in contact with someone with HIV.

I'm glad the brow lady has a policy of only using one blade per person, at least she is aware and being responsible in her craft; it is to be commended. But i'm afraid the author's tone is what leads people to continually treat the HIV positive in our society as outcasts.

I just expected..i don't' know, MORE from Mrs. Irabor. I guess people like Arthur Ashe and the thousands that contracted theirs through blood transfusions, or that innocent baby at LUTH weren't covered by the grace of God.

I have several friends who are ob/gyns in the U.S and Naija, and i have heard stories of so many of these so-called 'big women' who go to have babies abroad and are all HIV positive. They just keep quiet and take their reto-virals on the d-low, and keep mingling together at their owambes when they return. So who's fooling who?

Basically i just wonder how we are supposed to increase awareness and responsibility if even our 'enlightened'and educated editors all choose to hit the panic button and say "not me, by God's Grace."

Sorry this is so long...

Uche,  8:44 pm  

This is sad. I had some level of respect for this woman but obviously, it has been tainted now. I mean i understand that she has to look out for herself, but to publish it too?? Or is she trying to use her ignorance as a lesson to others? Or is she tryn to say that God saved her from a major mishap?? I don't know what to make of this. I know we all try to be cautious and all,and i read that interview with Jegede-Ekpe and thot that this is a big step for Nigeria in HIV awareness but then she goes and spoils it for me!

Hmmmm..let me read this again, maybe she meant it some other way. It's like seeing a leper and running the heck away from them cos u don't want to catch any, and then turn around n tell them to their face that this is why u ran???!!!


Uche,  8:46 pm  

Another thing...I wonder how Ms Ekpe feels after reading that??!!


sennyb,  9:04 pm  

i am shaking my head in sadness at reading this; it's write-ups like this that make ppl think u can get HIV from using the same plates/cups/spoons or hugging an infected person; on the other hand, this probably reflects how a majority of the country see this disease and the amount of work still needed in terms of public health education;
i think her tone smacks of a little smugness...I see her 'there but for the Grace of God' comment really embarassing (as a God fearing person);
-bad things happen to all sorts of ppl all the time; pray for Grace to bear it when your time comes....

Anonymous,  9:09 pm  

i thought the whole thing was fiction

catwalq 10:16 pm  

I guess when it all boils down to it, it is easier said than done when you tell people not to be prejudiced against HIV infected people.
Ignorance is not limited to the illiterate and is even more disturbing when it is exhibited by people that we assume to not be so.

bongi,  10:24 pm  

I am shocked beyond measure. I kept reading, hoping she would act like a hero. I guess I expected too much of her.

It's alright to have fears about HIV and AIDS but you should learn to manage them and use your experiences constructively. I spend time with HIV+ people and I can tell you, nothing prepares you for the first time. Especially if you had related with the person before knowing her or his status. Some of my best friends are HIV+ but we didn't get there in a day. It takes time and most of us are not super-humans. I am sure many people reacting on this blog have not experienced first-hand the reality of living and sharing stuff with HIV+ positive people. So, let's be careful how we scream at her. Thus, I can understand why Betty panicked.

HOWEVER, to think she went ahead to put it in the magazine... That's a shame, I think. In my opinion, she should have learnt from her reaction how irrational we can get when we fear needlessly. Perhaps, that would have been a better message than this piece she wrote. I have a lot of admiration for Betty's honesty but on this point, she's let a lot of people down. Not least her HIV+ readers.

Akin 11:01 pm  

This is crass beyond belief, now, I am hyperventilating with apoplectic rage at the stark ignorance and misinformed stupidity of this woman.

If such idiocy oblivious of the facts of HIV exists as part of the Nigerian elite, the implied hyper-prejudice and unrestrained bigotry would never help in getting people to come forward for testing, diagnosis and treatment.

One would think putting the subject on the cover was really about education, but it is now evident that it was about ratings and the sensation it would generate - no heart really in the matter of addressing the problem at all.

HIV People - Indeed! And such cretins who think like that walk this earth?

aj,  12:25 am  

It seems that many of us are suitable outraged by this woman's total ignorance about HIV related issues. Perhaps Jeremy or anyone else based in Nigeria can supply us with her email address so that we can register our disatisfaction. She might really not see anything wrong with her statement. However, if we all email her registering our disatisfaction, it might make her pause and reflect for a moment.

This I think we owe her.

Jeremy 12:29 am  

well there's an email address at the end of the article: morningdew@genevievemag.com

The website www.genevievemag.com has two further email addresses you might try:

editor@genevievemag.com genevievemagng@yahoo.com

Anonymous,  12:47 am  

Nobody seems to have told u about blogidol! Shame on pinky! check it out ok, i think its blogidols.blogspot.com if not navigate tru pinksatin blog or any1 else,ciao

tee,  5:27 am  

oh, that was clever. in any case, her gratitude needn't be misconstrued. it's clear she doesn't want AIDS, she's glad she didn't get AIDS, etc. however, she should have kept her sentiments to herself because she hasn't said anything useful. it's one of those think it but don't tell it scenarios...

heck, i don't want AIDS. i know enough about it know that it's not contagious but i'm not going to fool around it because i'm human and fear is my turf. as far as i'm concerned, a used blade is an infection - HIV or not - waiting to happen. i would hug a person with AIDS because i'm all for removing the stigma and not treating people like all they are is four letters all in CAPS, but i wouldn't share a blade with someone who's HIV positive (i'd be especially scared shitless like betty) or anyone else for that matter. simple. it's just suspect. another thing i wouldn't do is publish my own petty fears in a respectable magazine. that would be sort of counterproductive. and stupid. sometimes you just have to pretend to care especially if/when you don't. learn, betty, learn. a lovely little "oh, how ignorant i am and how much i want to help remove the stigma" conclusion could have secured her a nobel prize nomination. but she just had to be honest. sigh.

so, yeah, i see where she's coming from but she should have relegated this to her personal journal. i hope she can PR her way out of this one. i foresee outrage. well, it's good for the cause...so i'm down for whatever.

betty M,  7:50 am  

Betty has expressed some of our fears. But she was misguided in the way she handled it. One expected a kind of morality tale at the end about how one should be careful about making conclusion etc and understanding the issue. Instead, she ended her column as though she was justified in her thinking and expressing. This a real pity. If she really feel this way about HIV and have little understanding about it, what was the point of doing a feature on the HIV woman? I think this really irresponsible of her, especially from a national women's magazine.

Nigerian editors must be more careful. They must realise their power of their pen or keyboard.

Anonymous,  9:11 am  

Hey can we cut her some slack?
and that applies to people who may be HIV+ or live and love those who are.
She really was being honest and obviously is being careful, i freak out at hair salons or when i'm in proximity to any blade,etc being shared whether or not i know there are HIV+ ppl around-does that make me ignorant?
maybe her story doesnt have a 'moral of the story' and its not exactly inspirational,maybe she could have ended it differently,but to say that makes her crass/stupid i dont agree with. Lets just crucify her for being honest,shall we?

Morning Dew 9:41 am  

Oh my God! I feel so mortified about this Morning dew which has drawn such ire from readers because of its interpretations. My point of view has been misconstrued and interpreted to present me as judgemental of people living with HIV- AIDS. The article was supposed to be payfully cautionary while showing how really panicky and ignorant(using myself as an example) the best of us can be about HIV-AIDS. The article was supposed to send a message that the difference between those living with AIDS and those of us who are not, is the Grace of God- (...but for His grace there goes I) I apologise for its seemimg lack of sensitivity. I have also apologised to Yinka Jegede Ekpe whom we featured on our March cover. A retraction will follow in the next edition of Genevieve. Betty Irabor

Mary,  9:54 am  

last anon, don't use see, why should we validate honesty in this regard. why should u think that because she is been honest we should just let her go lightly. Most fascist are just been honest about their views,should we cut them some slacks? I think it is important that we pull them up on their shit no matter how honest they are being. honesty can be dangerous and detrimental to others.

Betty's is a case of power without responsibility.

I think she should be bombarded with emails so that she will think twice next time before airing her honesty to members of the public.

Opium,  10:05 am  

The only way one can contract the HIV virus from a used blade in the context of eyebrow shaping is if the blade itself was used to cut someone that was HIV positive and the person bled and then used to cut a person without HIV. There are more things to be worried about, such has a fungal infection passed on from the previous person on which the blade was used or the risk of tetanus by using an old blade rather than the risk of contracting HIV. If one can't contract HIV from kissing, I fail to see how one could possibly contract HIV from a blade used to shave one's eyebrows.

Shaving blades i.e. used by men on the face often cut skin and will more than likely be smeared with blood. That is why those shouldn't be shared.

The most ironic part of the article was the fact that the writer referred to actually having had HIV/AIDS awareness training and used that as the basis for her foolish reaction.

I don't even think that razor blades should be used to shave eyebrows in the first place, but that's another story.

Helen Charles,  11:20 am  

good for you betty. Now, my admiration for you grows even more now. This easiest thing you could have done is to go on the defensive like your rival did on this same blog a few months back.

This is a cautionary tale for all of us to be more careful about how we use language.

Thank you once again Jeremy for bringing this to our attention. Tahnk you even more to Betty for been woman enough to rise to the challenge.

Jeremy 11:21 am  

Well done Betty for being open and brave enough to apologise in what must be quite an embarrasing and difficult situation. Hopefully you now have a clearer idea of the sensitivities involved with HIV-AIDS issues..

I'm sure the other commentors will join me in looking forward to the retraction piece in the next issue of Genevieve! It might be good to fully explore all the various misconceptions about contracting the virus/testing for it/treatment etc.

Akin 11:52 am  


In addition to Jeremy's comments, I can only say you have to correct the misconception that you can test for HIV immediately after exposure as you implied.

After exposure there is a medically accepted 3 months necessary to determine if there are HIV anti-bodies or not.

In some Western countries there is even a morning-after prophylaxis where people exposed to the HIV virus as nominally HIV- people can take a 2-week course of anti-HIV drugs.

Whilst there is a bit of controversy about HIV leading to AIDS, you need to differentiate between what is HIV which is the infection and AIDS which is a syndrome resulting from the infection that has impaired the immune system.

You have got penance to do - this includes diligent research on the topic and a seriously responsible education of your public.

Anonymous,  1:21 pm  

Betty..thank you for acknowledging what a sensitive issue this is for many people and their loved ones. HIV is really epidemic in Nigeria.Looking forward to your retraction. Well done and God bless you.

Ms. May 1:40 pm  

I'm a tad bit late but I'm glad to see that Betty understands that her editorial came across as very ignorant and insensitive to the feelings of Yinka Jegede Ekpe as well as other living with HIV/AIDS. I am most certainly looking forward to the retraction. Please scan it in when it runs Jeremy since I'm in the States and won't have access to the magazine for a while. Thanks.

bongi,  1:42 pm  

Well, well... I'm so glad Betty had the courage to apologise. Now, that's a decent person.

Opium, you can contract HIV from kissing. There is at least one reported case and that's enough to wipe out your generalisation. I learnt that when one of my friends kissed a positive person and it took us harrowing weeks to confirm that all didn't go wrong.

Fred 5:19 pm  

Fear and irrationality are tightly linked and I believe it's an interesting take to read Betty Irabor's write-up about her all-too-natural irrational fear.

I would wager good money that any one of us, including even the most altruistic, would experience the sort of panic Irabor felt at the time. I'm not excusing it, mind, just understanding it.

I agree with Akin that this is a good opportunity to educate readers on the science (read: facts) about HIV transmission for Irabor and her magazine.

DIMEJI ALARA,  5:26 pm  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Music 6:08 pm  

@Morning Dew - The quote is actually 'There but for the grace of God go I.'

Waffarian 6:57 pm  

My mother works with HIV patients, I feel sad when I see friends and even family members refusing to shake hands or hug them. My mother has gone mental explaining over and over again that it is safe. She hugs, kisses them to show family members and guests that all is well... even then, with ivy league eduacation and all, I have realised that the way we treat our fellow human beings just boils down to empathy. It does not matter the level of education, religion, awareness etc, our hearts can not lie....at the end of the day, your heart will show you who you are.

Uche,  7:10 pm  

@ Morning dew
I feel a bit better now, but will feel even more elated when i read the next issue and see the retraction. I think there's a need to educate even the educated minds in Nigeria about HIV/AIDS and what better medium to use than yours? When i read the interview with Ms Ekpe i was suprised- good suprised, to see a Nigerian magazine taking a step forward in talking openly about something Africans regard as taboo.

Waiting anxiously for the next issue (even though i don't live in naija, i know Jeremy will keep me updated) and hopefully you'll redeem yourself in my eyes.

Jola Naibi 9:05 pm  

I work with HIV/AIDS patients and one of the things that we are trying VERY hard to do is reduce the stigma associated with the disease which ultimately has contributed to the spread of the disease. Many of the people who are HIV-positive do not know their serostatus because they refuse to get tested. Granted there is the issue of what happens next, but then - in terms of the lack of drugs but that is being addressed and overcome by a number of successful global initatives which have made the rollout of medications possible. The stigma issues are harder to combat because they have a lot to do with the ideas that people have developed about HIV and the people who are infected with the virus. A number of people still see it as a death sentence even though there are many people who are living successful lives and who are HIV-positive. Ms Irabor apologized on your blog, true. I don't live in Nigeria so I am not sure how widely-read her magazine is, but chances are there are more people reading that editorial now who do not read your blog (no offence meant) or should I say who would not go into the comments section of your blog to see her retraction. I think she can turn this around by doing a special on AIDS and the reduction of stigma. Recent statistics have shown that the highest prevalence rate is among the women in sub-Saharan Africa (most of who have only ever had one sexual partner)

Sorry to take up so much space on your comments section...I'll also send her an email to the address that you provided in the hope that she reads it

My 2 cents 1:01 am  

Permit me to say that this is the most ignorant piece of 'ish' I have ever read, and this is coming from a supposedly exposed individual that knows better than to insult all the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS.
I have lost numerous friends and family members to this deadly disease and it hurts to see this level of idiocy on print.

loomnie 1:48 pm  

I find myself agreeing with Fred on this: there is hardly any of us who wouldn't panic if this kind of thing happened to them. One can criticise Betty on many fronts, but not for panicking like most of us would.

I was astounded by her writing that she was going to go get a test immediately. I thought everybody knew that one couldn't test for HIV until about 3 months after infection. For this, I join Akin to ask her to educate herself.

That aside, I don't think that it was wrong of her to publish what she wrote - at least each of us has an opinion - what I find a bit disturbing is that she wrote what would offend her audience. One would think that she would be sensitive enough to know that she was writing in a magazine that has as one of its aims 'inspiring' people', one in which honesty has to be tempered by a large dose of sensitivity. No, I do not blame her for taking us through her thought process and her rational fears, what I blame her for is publishing it in a magazine that has cultivated an audience that has grown to expect heroism of her. For that kind of audience she could/should have written at the end of the piece to tell how she overcame the horrible 'irrational' fear... like Tee says, or with a 'morals of the story' ending, like Anonymous above says.

I join Jeremy to ask her to do a full edition on the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. Of course, she shouldn't forget to always remain a role model....

Anonymous,  11:12 am  

Quite a shock for someone like Betty Irabor. Her language was so flippant and did she actually use the phrase 'those aids people'? unbelievable!

Wordsbody 12:15 pm  

If Betty Irabor's intention was to say "There but for the grace of God..." then she was wide off the mark. Her apologies so far are grossly inadequate in the face of the massive offence caused by her comments, which she'd actually thought was okay! Makes you wonder what universe some of our celebrities live in.

Ola,  8:07 pm  

I feel Mrs Irabor made a public spectacle of her ignorance and stupidity; however, there are lessons to be learnt.

1: ACCOUNTABILITY- I reckon that as the editor, her article needed no approval to be sanctioned is why it was featured in the first place. Other magazines should take note, and perhaps brain storm with other memebers of the editorial team on all articles to be featured

2: AIDS ENLIGHTMENT: it goes without saying that the awareness about this illness/disease needs to intensified. Nigeria is a country noted for public holidays - perhaps these national holidays should be themed. The Ministry of health should rise to the occasion, and there are also charities and bodies committed to these causes.

3: RELIGION: This should not be misconstrued. As a Believer, I feel deeply pained that the Grace of God would be used in such context. In the first instance, the article, and in the second instance; the SUPPOSED APOLOGY which has no ounce of humility. No, Mrs. Irabor, YOU ARE NOT AMONG THE BEST OF THEM; that is for other people to judge. God sends the rain on both the Godly and the wicked; and we have all learnt that good things happen to bad people and bad things to good people. Of blessed memory are pastors and their spouses much considered national heros who have died to some form of ailment. (Mrs. Irabor I would recommend you read God's generals). We are all kept by the Grace of God, but it is not neccessarily sin, or the lack of the grace of God that has made people contract AIDS, cancer or whatever. I'm sure we have all learnt the importance of the use of language. I daresay the next edition should not just be a retraction but a whole edition committed to HIV/AIDS EDUCATION; and subsequent editions have columns on dedicated to the enlightenment on AIDS and other such disease.

Yemisi,  9:27 pm  

I don't know why people are surprised by Mrs Irabor's statement. The two major women's magazines in the country are always guffing it one way or another. The last time, we read of True Love's guff on this blog and now Mrs Irabor. What does these cock-up have to say about the editors of these two magazines? But I guess one can say that Mrs Irabor is better than her counterpart - she did'nt come in with barrage of abuse and justifications. Instead, she immediately retracted and offered her apology. But her apology is not really an apology at all. She was found out and she had to safe face. her apology shows that she doesn't get it all. But what she does show is that compare to the other folk at True Love is maturity and experience in dealing with this kind of backlash.

power to the blog.

To the Jeremy: I think you are learning how to present your argument to Nigerians. If you had presented your opinion about True Love's cock-up you might have a better response. So please present us with the facts and allow us to make up our minds in future. You have to remember that for as long as you wear your skin, it would always be difficult for us Nigerians to truly hear what you have to say.

Jeremy 10:11 pm  

Yemisi - i have the good fortune to be surrounded by strong minded and powerfully spirited women. Eventually, I had the guts to listen to them about how irritating my opinionations have become. From now on, you should notice a more inviting tone of voice which lets readers in a little more.

imnakoya,  10:31 pm  

Betty Irabor just displayed the extent of ignorance among the elites and those who should be in the know in Nigeria. Shameful and despicable!

My eye caught the comment from Yemisi Re: "..So please present us with the facts and allow us to make up our minds in future. You have to remember that for as long as you wear your skin, it would always be difficult for us Nigerians to truly hear what you have to say."

J, I didn't realize you were running a nursery school here? This is a B-L-O-G, not a nursery school story book - it is meant for bloggers to express and offer their opinion/views on issues as they see fit!

Statement as Yemisi's and her use of "skin color", and Jeremy's lame-ass response is a double slap on the face... first as a Nigerian, second as a blogger. Bloggers blog their minds, not write some lullaby! Darn JW, what are they feeding in Abuja? Well, na you sabi.

Oyibo! 9:03 pm  

What a shocking piece.
From sentence one it's immediately apparent what a shallow, desperate, ignorant, waste of space that woman is. sod her and her apologies. The only thing that really depresses me is its totally in the character of the nigerian media and elites.

as to the person who said "as long as you wear your skin Nigerians will not hear what you say" what kind of idiotic prejudice is this? just because I'm white, does that invalidate my opinion? if i don't understand something about nigeria at first, so what? I'm allowed to have my opinion, my view on it. You can laugh at me if you like, and maybe one day I'll understand this country a bit better, but it will be because I'm a curious sort of person and open minded, not like him.
What kind of a reaction would he have if i said that to him? If i said "because you're black you'll never understand the UK" i could have expected a similar reaction as miss morning dew (isn't that a really shit name for a column by the way?) Attitudes like that are why many people (especially in other african countries) think nigerians are arrogant, idiotic pricks.

Jagila 4:16 am  

I find all the comments so interesting. 1) Have to agree with Fred on the normalcy of her paranoia about HIV infection (note distinction from AIDS); I myself have lived with and worked with HIV +ve ppl and know that caution is necessary but there is a thin line between caution and being extreme. 2) Her article did come out sounding very... wrong (can't think of a better word); I loved the suggestion about doing a piece on HIV education/realities associated with it. 3) We all need to learn and keep learning more about the disease; infection, stages, symptoms, tests, treatment, stigma etc

Good work Jeremy on the info you continue to present in your blog!

Jagila 4:18 am  

I find all the comments so interesting. 1) Have to agree with Fred on the normalcy of her paranoia about HIV infection (note distinction from AIDS); I myself have lived with and worked with HIV +ve ppl and know that caution is necessary but there is a thin line between caution and being extreme. 2) Her article did come out sounding very... wrong (can't think of a better word); I loved the suggestion about doing a piece on HIV education/realities associated with it. 3) We all need to learn and keep learning more about the disease; infection, stages, symptoms, tests, treatment, stigma etc

Good work Jeremy on the info you continue to present in your blog!

Regina 1:38 pm  

In a country where we're trying to go against HIV discrimination,someone comes up with this?She deserves all the negative comments and much more.
But the Bible says a lot about forgiveness and we should prove to her that we have a better idea of Christianity than she does and forgive her.Lets hope she has learnt her lesson.

Regina 1:40 pm  

Had to re-read her comment.Whether or not she has learnt her lesson,we have to forgive her.

Anonymous,  8:59 am  

I thought that the article was actually in bad taste. It just goes to show our real selves. We just pretend to be nice but deep down inside we all have the same fears. I love Bety Irabor and Genevieve mag, but i think that some things should be left unsaid. Bravo for her candour but......the truth is that we are all afraid of the dreaded AIDS and nobody wants to catch it. In fact Yinka herself is aware of this that is why she had her brows done at home so that she would not spread the disease inadvertantly. U know if the make up artiste was aware of Yinka's HIV status, she may have declined the job or would have disposed of all her equipment after that job.

Anonymous,  11:30 pm  

Dont be quick to judge her cos many of you would do the same..People are afraid of what they do not know and what do we know less of if not HIV...

I have friends who still argue with me that the disease does not exist, I feel like shouting IT DOES, IT EXISTS IN ME but instead I smile and take my own drugs on the downlow as well...all the while talking about my "Kidney" infection and my next hospital appointment!

Sharon 7:44 pm  


1 in 4 sexually active teenagers become infected with an STD every year, in the United States alone. Now, more than ever, we need to join together to fight this growing issue. As I read through your website, it is clear that you share the same passion for STD/STI awareness. We here, at Disease.com, understand the importance of STD/STI prevention and treatments. If you could, please list us as a resource or host our social book mark button, it would be much appreciated. We can not reach every teenager, but together we can try.
If you need more information please mail me with the subject line as your URL.

Thnak You,
Sharon Vegoe

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