BY EDITORIAL COMMITTEE, ANTI-AIDS CLUB, IBADAN ZONE
There was a time in African history when there were recurring cases of child mortality. Due to lack of knowledge, it was assumed that it was a cultural phenomenon called the abiku scourge in which a spirit child is born only die some days after birth. This could occur for so many times. Looking back, it is a relief that modern methods and civilization has made us know better that it has to do with something called genotype, and at the same time, count our losses in the hands of ignorance.
In today’s world, genotype issues are on the front burner. Genotype has to do with the genetic constitution of an organism. The genotype determines the hereditary potentials and limitations of an individual from embryonic formation through adulthood. Normal Adult hemoglobin is A (HbA), commonly called AA. It is present in the human blood as part of the red blood cell component carrying oxygen to the tissue and returning carbon dioxide to the lungs. The abnormal one is the (Hemoglobin SS (HbSS) commonly called SS in which an individual possesses the homozygous state of abnormal genes. Other variations are the AS, which is a combination of genes HbA and HbSS, HbAC, HbAD and HbSC all of which are known as heterozygous states. In a nutshell, everybody has two Hb which could be Hb AA, Hb AS, Hb AC, Hb SS, HB SC etc. A person with Hb AA has no problem. Someone with a trait of Hb S or Hb C is a carrier of a mutated hemoglobin which will not manifest symptoms but problem starts when a person has the homozygote state Hb SS or Hb CC. Such an individual will manifest symptoms when exposed to factors such as cold, infections, dehydration, etc.
Then, the issue of love comes in. People feel it is the necessary drive that should bring two persons together to want to spend a lifetime together and also start a family. Young adults who have been lucky to have found each other and fallen in love, may feel there is nothing more important than the stirrings they feel for each other. However, realists feel, such other things as compatibility should be priced higher than love. Besides compatibility in interests, family values, beliefs, there is also one, which is natural and must be highly considered, and that is the genotype compatibility. They always talk from a wide body of experiences, that it is best to avoid a union which will reproduce a sickle cell patient because most of these people go through harrowing experiences to do things other genotype types do effortlessly.
In an educative discourse, recently carried out by members of the NYSC Anti-Aids club, Ibadan zone, it was unanimously agreed upon that on no account must love be chosen over genotype. This conclusion was not arrived at shabbily. After some examples and fact, it was established that it will be a crime to humanity to keep on reproducing future generations of sickle cell anemia individuals. The club tolled its stand after the popular quote of “Imagine a generation without sickle cell disease; it begins with you and me.” The group proffered solutions to reducing the scourge which include knowing genotype details at the start of a relationship. Also, that everyone must know his genotype details. For those who have done it twice with contrasting details, it was advised, that it should be done again to be sure. The group also urged religious houses to take interest in genotype issues for couples before marriage with the same vigour with which they take pregnancy tests. It suggested that if every AA decides to marry an SS, there will be a sickle-cell free generation in the future. The group also took upon itself the onus of ensuring that it spreads the message so that as role models, they can also champion the course of reducing the scourge.