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General News of Thursday, 26 February 2004

Source: GNA

500,000 Ghanaians infected by HIV/AIDS last year

Ho, Feb. 26, GNA - Mrs Kate Adoo-Adeku, Acting Director of the Institute of Adult Education (IAE), University of Ghana, Legon on Wednesday said an estimated 500,000 people were infected with the HIV/AIDS disease last year, in spite of notable strides made in information dissemination on the pandemic.
She said a total of 1,778 out of 12,988 people in the Volta Region tested positive of the disease, citing statistics released by the Regional Health Directorate of the Ghana Health Service.
"A total of 194 out of 719 cases were also recorded to be positive to the HIV/AIDS test at the Ho District Hospital", she said. These were contained in a speech read for her at the graduation ceremony of 24 participants who took a three-month Distance Education course on HIV/AIDS Counselling and Care-Giving in Ho.
The course was organised by the IAE under the aegis of the Ghana AIDS Commission and the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) to equip the participants with adequate information to enable them to understand the complexities of human behaviour that result into stigmatisation, discrimination against and rejection of affected and infected people.
Mrs Adoo-Adeku said about 366 participants nationwide had taken part in the first phase of the project and was optimistic that the figure would triple in the second phase, which would cover the entire country.
As change agents the impact and success of the programme would be measured when communities begin to see HIV/AIDS not as a threat but an opportunity to challenge deep-rooted traditions that impinges on individual rights and liberties, she held.
Mrs Adoo-Adeku appealed to members of the public to take advantage of the second phase of the programme, which would commence on March 15, this year to lend support to the national goal of stemming the HIV/AIDS scourge.
Mr Oheneba Apau-Danquah, a Human Resource Director at the Volta Regional Co-ordinating Council (VRCC), said the disease had the potential of wiping the human resource base of the country if it was not controlled.
He therefore, appealed to all stakeholders to "gird their loins to the wheel to combat the fledging time bomb".
Mr Matthew Atinyo, Volta Regional Tutor of the IAE, said the trainees would be attached to the district hospitals and other organisations already working in the related field.
He urged the public not to shy away from the disease. Rather people should lead lifestyles worthy of emulation such as abstaining from sex, being faithful to one another and using condom when necessary. Mr Cephas Ofori, Ho District Assembly Focal Person on HIV/AIDS, appealed to chiefs and queenmothers to re-introduce cultural and traditional practices which promoted societal cohesion and morality than kowtowing to negative foreign cultures and its adverse effect on the society.
Dr Simon Tokpo-Ayikue, the course prefect, recommended that voluntary counselling and testing centres should be established in all district hospitals and clinics in the region.
He noted that the disease was still a taboo in some places but the orientation had given them the added urge to break the negative barriers about it in such communities.
Togbe Dekortsu II, Afetorfia of Ho-Heve, who presided called on all and sundry to assist in the de-stigmatisation of the disease.


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