Regional News of Tuesday, 17 December 2013
A report by the Northern Regional HIV and AIDS Technical Support Unit has indicted nurses at hospitals where anti-retroviral treatment (ART) is administered in the region for engaging in unprofessional acts that tend to disclose to the public the HIV status of people living with the disease.
The report, conducted in 2012 under the title: “Realities and Experiences of Antiretroviral Treatment Compliance: Perspectives from People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Northern Region” was released at a Regional HIV and AIDS Stakeholders Forum in Tamale on Tuesday.
The forum, attended by representatives from Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations, as well as PLHIV, was to acquaint participants with the current HIV and AIDS issues in the region, review progress and chart the best way forward.
The report, which was a summary of various focus group discussions by 47 PLHIV in the region, said the unprofessional acts of the nurses had exposed PLHIV to public ridicule and stigmatization, a situation which sometimes discouraged them (PLHIV) from going to the hospitals to receive ART medications.
It said stigmatization was impacting negatively on economic status of PLHIV as members of the public who knew about their (PLHIV) status refused to purchase items being sold by them (PLHIV).
The report quoted one of the participants in the focus group discussions as saying “…they (nurses) toss our folders to each other especially during admissions and talk about us (gossiping) in English thinking we do not understand the English Language.”
It also quoted another participant as saying “When the date is due for collection of drugs, my heart beats because the one giving the drugs is from my area.”
Mr Bede Ziedeng, Northern Regional Minister, whose speech was read for him, said even though the latest HIV and AIDS prevalence was low, there was a need to devise pragmatic and innovative strategies to further reduce the trend.
Mr Nuhu Musah, Northern Regional HIV and AIDS Technical Coordinator said there was the need for stakeholders to collaborate to eliminate all forms of stigmatization, which was a drawback to efforts at fighting the disease.
He said funding for HIV and AIDS related activities by MMDAs was poor, stating from June 2013, only two district assemblies allocated part of their Common Fund to fund HIV and AIDS activities in their jurisdictions.
Dr Patrick Bampoe, Northern Regional HIV and AIDS Coordinator for the Ghana Health Service, who also presented a report on the 2012 National HIV Sentinel Survey, said out of the 19,049 pregnant women sampled, 10.1 percent was HIV positive.