Health News of Thursday, 25 August 2011
Tamale, Aug. 25, GNA - Human Immune Virus (HIV) related stigma, discrimination and misconception continue to manifest in every aspect of the society creating major barriers to fighting HIV/AIDS, Mr Charles Kwadwo Oppong, Programmes Manager of Ghana Network of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS (NAP+) has observed.
However, he said, visibility and openness about AIDS were the prerequisites for the successful mobilization of communities and individuals to responds to the endemic.
Mr Oppong said this at a media interaction on Wednesday in Tamale which brought together Persons Living with HIV/AIDS and Journalists from the Northern Region to share experiences and deliberate on how the challenge of stigmatization could be reduced.
Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases constitutes the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Six. Ghana’s HIV/AIDS prevalence rate has dropped from 3.2 per cent in 2006 to 2.2 per cent in 2008 but increased to 2.9 per cent, according to the 2009 Ghana Millennium Development Goal Report 2010 (GMDGR).
The report also states that the country has to sustain its efforts in order to meet the nation’s target of prevalence rate, which should be less 1.5 per cent to halt and reverse the spread of the pandemic.
The aim of the MDGs is to encourage development by improving social and economic conditions in the world’s poorest countries. The goals were derived from earlier international development targets and were officially established following the Millennium Summit in 2000.
Mr Oppong noted that it had been observed that two areas where stigmatization and discrimination abound were the communities in which persons living with HIV/AIDS live and the various health care centres where they receive their Antiretroviral Treatment (ART).
“In view of the fear of discrimination following disclosure of HIV status stigma prevents PLHIV from getting the needed attention from family members,” he said.
Mr Oppong explained that the phenomena also functioned as a barrier to people with HIV or AIDS from disclosing their status and getting access to available support and care services and to HIV prevention that encourage people to adopt safer sex behaviour.
“If PLHIV are mocked or treated with hostility, they may feel uncared for and are less likely to take steps to protect themselves and infect others in retaliation to stigma,” he said.
Madam Charity Danso, Vice President NA+, who shared her experience, said PLHIV were regularly ostracized and rejected by their communities and were often blamed for their illness.
She also said people considered their situation as a deserving punishment for ‘immoral’ or ‘bad’ behaviour such as sex outside marriage and prostitution, adding that moral judgments served little purpose.
Madam Danso said as a result of stigma many of the PLHIV had lost their jobs whiles others had been ejected from their apartments.
She suggested that a collaborative effort among stakeholders, strong polices to protect PLHIV and commitment from leadership could help to reduce the canker.