By Temitope Ponle
Abuja, – The National Association of Seadogs (NAS), also known as Pyrates Confraternity, has advocated safe and healthy lifestyles to stem the scourge of HIV/AIDS in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that members of the association organised a hiking exercise in Abuja to create awareness on the significance of healthy living.
Mr Stanley Nwodo, President of the association, Abuja branch encouraged Nigerians to maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid contracting the disease.
Nwodo, who is also a legal practitioner, said the association was engaging with the government to encourage policies aimed at addressing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“We are encouraging everyone to play safe and we have members that are highly placed to influence policies.
“We are engaging government in many ways and where we cannot work with government directly, we partner with NGOs,” he said.
Mr Dino Nsima, a Public Health Consultant lauded the efforts of government in making antiretroviral drugs readily available to those living with the virus and urged those who have been exposed to get tested properly.
“The Dolutegravir (DTG) drug has the propensity to drive down the viral load and has less negative impact on the individual.
“It was only supposed to be used as a second line drug but Nigeria has brought it in as a first line drug which is a fantastic move by the government.
“All the research carried out shows that more than 90 per cent of individuals using it are doing well.”
Mr Aqua Edet, an hotelier and a member of the association, also urged the government to continue with its fight against the spread of the disease.
“The essence of coming out is to try to put pressure on the Nigerian government to do more in terms of funding of this scourge.
“You would agree that a lot has been done by the country, the bulk of the job is done by the international community and donor agencies.
”So we encourage the country to do more about reducing the scourge of HIV/AIDS.”
Edet further corrected the general notion that hotels were a place where careless lifestyles were being perpetrated.
“There is this general perception about hotels being a place where careless lifestyles are being supported but far from it.
“I have been privy to highly placed workshops held in my facility to encourage sensitisation on preventive mechanisms.
”I have come to the knowledge that you can actually live your full life if you are infected but it is all about how you live your life.”
Mr Seun Olokeogun, a legal practitioner, said that various activities were done by the association globally to mark the day.
“We are educating the world on the scourge, how to prevent it, reduce it, manage it, and also to create awareness.
”The National Association of Seadogs is partnering with other international organisations and the government to enhance its sensitisation efforts on the scourge of HIV/AIDS.
“What we are doing today by this mountain climbing is a form of keeping fit and also to say HIV/AIDS can be conquered the same way we have conquered this mountain.
“We can put it under; it is not a death sentence and can be managed. People who have been infected have lived long and there are lots of therapies.”
Olokeogun further advised people to know their HIV status by getting tested.
World AIDS Day, designated every Dec. 1 since 1988, is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.