Contrary to public opinion that HIV/AIDS is far from reaching the inhabitants of Benin republic, one single Health clinic has recorded more than three thousand new infections during the period January 1 to November 30, as can be seen from this radio interview I conducted this morning to mark the occasion of the World HIV/AIDS Day celebration. The interview was aired on CAPP FM Radio 99.60MHz Cotonou. Dr. Frank Alapini is the Medical Director of Arc-en-ciel HV/AIDS Hospital based in Cotonou – Benin republique.
Vincent/CAPP Fm: Dr. Alapini, how come your practice is in the field of HIV/AIDS?
Dr. Alapini: HIV/AIDS is a new disease and it needs special hanbdling. I have followed special courses on HIV/AIDS treatment.
Vincent/CAPP Fm: HIV/AIDS are acronyms. Could you give us their full meanings.
Dr. Alapini: When you hear AIDS, understand – Acquired Immuno-deficiency Syndrome. When you hear HIV, understand – Human Immuno-deficiency Virus.
Vincent/CAPP Fm: So, when there is a deficiency in the human system to a certain degree, somebody becomes vulnerable to manifesting HIV/AIDS sickness?
Dr. Alapini: Somebody can have HIV without developing into AIDS. It depends on the body defence immunity level.
Vincent/CAPP Fm: Could you trace the origin of this epidemic, bearing in mind that it has been said that it originally was detected from the Ape or the Gorilla.
Dr. Alapini: HIV/AiDS has no scientifically traceable origin. All that story is mere gossip. But sexual relation is one means of its transmission. It is not a curse from God as some people seem to believe also. It is a result of the sexual behaviour of people.
Vincent/CAPP Fm: Could you describe the symptoms to our listeners, please.
Dr. Alapini: There are 3 categories of symptoms associated with this disease – the digestive system, the skin and the pulmonary system. The main symptoms of the apparatus of the body is continuous diarrhea lasting over a period of three weeks. Another symptom is protracted coughing or skin rashes of unusual nature.
Vincent/CAPP Fm: Some men do have discharges from their urinary tract in cases of ghonorhea infection. Does HIV/AIDS infection come with this symptom also?
Dr. Alapini: No. But a ghonorhea carrier can be vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection faster than a normal person.
Vincent/CAPP Fm: Where can people go for tests to discover their status?
Dr. Alapini: We do conduct free tests at the Arc-en-ciel medical centre; and it can be done in just 30 minutes.
Vincent/CAPP Fm: What is involved in the actual treatment (or management) of the infection?
Dr. Alapini: The treatment is the business of specialkists. It largely depends on the level of the CD-4 count. That is the soldier in the human system. If it is too low (that is 200 microbits) we can start treatment. But if is is more than 500 microbits, we cannot yet start treatment.
Vincent/CAPP Fm: It is sometimes said that a person can test negative at one time and test positive at some other time in future. How does that happen?
Dr. Alapini: What we detect during the test is your antibody. So, it takes time for the anti-body to come to the surface. That accounts for testing negative at one time and positive at a future time.
Vincent/CAPP Fm: What preventive measures would you recommend for non-infected people?
Dr. Alapini: According to me, as I am also a religious person, I pefer Abstinence and Faithfulness. I can only recommend condoms to those who are already infected so that they do not contaminate others.
Vincent/CAPP Fm: A friend of mine says he slept with a carrier. He quickly took a shower. He had a test a few weeks after and tested negative. Could that be right?
Dr. Alapini: Yes. It is not all sexual relationships that can result to HIV infection.
Phone Call: One caller asks whether there is anything like HIV/AIDS in Benin republic. His question arises from the flagrant manner with which the womenfolk yield to sexual advances in this country.
Dr. Alapini: Concerning the way girls use their thing in this country, I want to say that in one year, we have recorded 3,000 new cases of HIV infection. There are more than 1,000 victims on admission at the moment at our Health Centre alone. There are many more at the Teaching Hospital and a lot more at other clinics apart from those who just come for treatment and disappear for fear of being identified.
Vincent/CAPP Fm: Dr. Alapini, could you tell us the method of treatment and how effective it has been.
Dr. Alapini: At the moment, we administer Anti-Retroviro Therapy. It helps to aleviate the pains. Any person who is placed on this drug is to remain on it for life. There is no known cure as of now. But prevention is, and has always been the best remedy.
A call from United Kingdom :
Vincent: Hello, Osondu, We have a Doctor in the house today and we are talking about HIV/AIDS. Any contributions?
Osondu: Even here in the UK, there is a way of handling it. The anti-retroviro. But to me one thing I would recommend is total abstinence. I do not even encourage the use of condom.
Vincent: Dr. Alapini, I visited your hospital three years ago and there were 6 patients. But when I called on you last week, the number has heightened astronomically. I thought it had been turned into a general hospital.
Dr. Alapini: Okay, let me tell you that in one year, since January till this month I have 300 new cases. If somebody does not believe that HIV exists, a short visit at Arc-en-ciel will show you that it does.
Vincent:About incubation period, how long does it take before somebody who contracts HIV begins to manifest the disease?
Dr. Alapini: Maximum incubation period is 6 months. Let me make myself clear: incubation period is the time you have the anti-body. To have the disease depends on individual immunity system. So, somebody can develop the disease in two years. It can take some up to10 years.
Phone Call: Is that the doctor? Somebody was talking to me that HIV can be contacted through kissing. Is that true?
Dr. Alapini: No. My answer is ‘No’. Your saliva does not contain the serum that contains HI-virus.
Ef-em: Some people argue that one can get HIV through mosquitoe bite.
Dr. Alapini: No. If it is possible, all of the humankind would have gotten HIV. When mosquitoes bite somebody, it keeps the blood it takes from you inside its stomach. When mosquitoes bite you it injects you its saliva. My word of advise is “Abstinence before marriage. Faithfulness after marriage. That is my word.
Vincent: Thank you Dr. Alapini, thank you everyone. Here is where we draw the curtain for tonight. Meet you again next week Sunday. Good nite.
Vincent/CAPP Fm: That is the much we can take for now, Dr. Alapini. Thank you for accepting to be my guest on CAPP FM Radio 99.6
Dr. Alapini: Thank you for hosting me, Vincent. Bye listeners.