All over the globe, December Ist, is set aside by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a special day to raise awareness on the prevalence of the dreaded HIV/AIDS pandemic that ravages the world.
The aims however is to continually bring to people’s consciousness the paramount need to be protected and thereby help reduce the spread of the virus.
This is why the theme of 2018 campaign is hinged on, “know your status”.
In principle, WHO urges people to know their infection status through testing and access to treatment and care services as the only means of controlling the spread of the virus. Also, as a matter of responsibility, it urges the governments to promote a health for all agenda, both for HIV/AIDS and other health services.
Therefore, as a grass root organization, the National Association of Seadogs, (NAS ) decided to support the efforts of WHO in the field of eradicating the spread of the dreaded HIV/AIDS through advocacy on increasing the public’s knowledge of the virus and how it transmutes.
In carrying out this objective, the Mainland chapter of the organization decided to stage a health-walk campaign within the environs of Yaba and Tejuosho markets that is densely populated.
But prior to the health-walk campaign was a health workshop organised by the chapter on Friday, November 30, 2018 for its members as a prelude to the main event on Saturday, December 1, 2018.
The workshop was to prepare the participants and equip them with information the origin, spread and the control means put in place by the world health governing body so far in the fight against HIV virus.
Questions and answers were the major highlights of the event as participants shared knowledge, awareness and readiness to not only campaign but join the spread of information on how to abstain from any form of contacting of the disease.
Also, the plight of victims of HIV/AIDS in our society was brought to the front burner during the workshop and it was revealed that the basic ingredient of stigmatization is lack of knowledge on how the virus could be contacted. Therefore government was called upon to help increase awareness in order to help nip stigmatization in the bud.
Dr. Onemu, the co-ordinator of the event further expressed that apart from blood and seminal fluids, there are no other means of transfer of the virus. He intoned that apart from laceration on the body that could support transmission, there is no other means the virus could spread.
During the campaign on December 1, 2018 which started around 9:33 am, safety was the hallmark of the event. People were encouraged to check their status as packets of condoms were shared to the members of the public with the message of safety and abstinence.
They opined that the condom is only symbolic; therefore it is not a call for indiscretion. They campaigned that abstinence is the safest protection against the sexual transmission of the virus but apart from that, people need to protect themselves during the use of sharp objects.
This was illustrated through careful use of needles especially at hair and beauty shops, use of barbing and tattoo equipments, surgical operations, dental procedures, manicures and pedicures, incisions and any other means that aids cuts on the body.
However, the need to conduct random checks was drummed into the people’s ears as an alternative protection means because by people knowing their status, if negative increases their safety measures and if positive begins early treatment and access to Antiretroviral drugs that helps check the duplicity of the virus in the body and thereby stabilizes the health of the victim.
While talking on the significance of the campaign to the organization, Nnaemeka Ezeokwelume, the PRO of the chapter said that the world health body set aside December 1 to sensitize people about HIV virus and that is why the organization deems it fit to join in creating awareness.
In order to stop stigmatization, “living with HIV is not the end of the world but it is important for people to know their status.”
Charles Nagudia, the president of the chapter concluded that the event is to sensitize people on the need for safe sex and protection. Therefore since a humanistic ideal is the core value of the organization, investment in people becomes paramount.
“It is part of NAS programmes to let people know that their lives matters and abstinence or protection matters a lot.” He ended.