It’s September, Sickle Cell Month and as usual the Nigerian theme is the same as it has always been, “Know Your Genotype”, “Break the Cycle”. But no one is telling us what to do with that. Here knowing your genotype, boils down to losing a liberty others take for granted or not.
Being AA genotype is now a bragging right online, up there with light-skinned and able to cook. #WifeMaterial. If you are unfortunately a carrier or have the disease, “You must marry AA genotype oh, or your children will be dying”.
With an increase in Sickle Cell awareness, being a carrier has been stigmatised, to the point where a small survey on twitter revealed that AA genotype Nigerians would rather not marry AS genotype for fear of carrier kids.
They don’t want to “contaminate” their gene poll and who can blame them. There’s no policy compelling them to be “part of the solution” neither are they called selfish for this opinion or decision.
On the other hand, being a carrier, I am expected to announce or ask about one’s genotype on a first date, and where possible hang it in my bio. It’s like being a leper and walking around shouting “Unclean, Unclean!”.
I understand perfectly the devastation of the Sickle Cell disease and the pain the warriors go through. However in my opinion, this month is another genotype witch-hunt and pity-party, where we carriers are let to bear the responsibility of breaking the circle, solely by our spousal choice. Tying the end of the scourge to offspring isn’t just alienating, it is in efficient and not sustainable. As long as there are carriers, there will be occurrences of this disease.
I’m a little frustrated and eager for the Sickle Cell Awareness theme promoted by related foundations in this country to grow and move from stigmatising sickle cell carriers and their children living with the disease, to funding research into an affordable accessible cure. It will also be helpful for local fertility clinics to lend their voices to promoting preventive options for AS genotype couples.
Foundations I’ve tried to reach are all quiet on this issue and I feel like I’m alone in this.
If you’d like to see more information on medical advancements and more effort being put into developing a cure, please leave me a comment.
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