Health News of Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Ghana cannot attain the goal of reducing new HIV infections by 50 per cent, eliminate mother to child transmission of the disease and optimize treatment for all eligible patients if elimination of HIV-related stigma and discrimination is not prioritized.
This is because stigmatization and discrimination severely undermine HIV prevention efforts by making people afraid to seek information about how to reduce their risk of exposure to the disease, come for voluntary testing and discourage people living with the disease to disclose their status.
Mr. Victor Ntumi, Executive Director of AFRIWEB Foundation, a Health and Livelihood Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), was speaking at an outreach programme at Adaklu Kodzobi in the Adaklu District at the weekend.
The programme was under the aegis of AFRIWEB Foundation with support from Ghana Aids Commission and Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana.
Mr. Ntumi said discrimination and stigmatization were barriers to achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support and hindered progress towards achieving the health related Millennium Development Goals.
He said AFRIWEB Foundation was using churches and mosques as springboards to educate people on the dangers of discrimination and stigmatization of people living with AIDS adding “we must show love and compassion to such people”.
He said out of the about 2,000 people randomly tested for /HIV/AIDS voluntarily in the Ho Municipal Area lately only 20 people tested positive.
Mr. Ntumi said it was beneficial to know one’s HIV status and assured that results of people who came for testing would be treated with the “greatest confidentiality”.
He said the face of HIV/AIDS had now changed and assured those living with the disease that “it is not the end of the road for them” and advised them to avail themselves of treatment and anti-retroviral therapy currently available throughout the country.
Mr. Ntumi appealed to community and faith-based organisations, opinion leaders and traditional leaders to be in the forefront in the fight against discrimination and stigmatization of PLWA.
Over 100 people were later tested voluntarily for the disease.