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Sunday, 5 August, 2001, 07:50 GMT 08:50 UK
Obasanjo: 'Give soldiers condoms'
Nigerian soldiers on peacekeeping duty
Soldiers on peacekeeping missions are at risk
President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria has urged the country's military commanders to provide their troops with free condoms to curb the spread of Aids.

"You must not allow Aids to ravage our armed forces," the Reuters news agency quoted him saying at a meeting of high-ranking officers in the south-western city of Ibadan.

He promised that stocks of condoms would be provided in clinics at military barracks for distribution to military personnel - especially those going abroad on assignment.

The president - himself a retired general - said that during his time in the army, it was an offence to contract a sexually-transmitted disease.

"Now it's only an offence if you conceal it," he said.

Fighting Aids

Nigerian military commanders have disclosed that hundreds of soldiers returning from peacekeeping missions in such places as Liberia and Sierra Leone have been found to be infected with the HIV virus that causes Aids.

Olesugan Obasanjo
Nigeria's president is leading efforts to fight Aids
Mr Obasanjo is leading efforts to encourage Africa's leaders to publicly address the problem and confront it as a major problem afflicting the continent.

The disease has devastated large areas of Africa - current estimates say it will kill 50 million Africans in the next decade alone.

Nigeria, which is Africa's most populous country, has been relatively less badly hit - a 1999 study found that one in 20 Nigerians were affected by the Aids virus.

But experts say the disease could grow in the West African nation if it is not effectively contained.

See also:

08 May 00 | Africa
Nigerian doctor finds HIV 'cure'
01 Dec 99 | Africa
HIV warning for Nigeria
04 Oct 99 | Africa
Africa on the Aids frontline
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