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Regional News of Wednesday, 27 November 2002

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HIV/AIDS devastates Ashanti Goldfields

Obuasi (Ashanti Region) -- The Obuasi Mine of the Ashanti Goldfields Company (AGC) has stepped up HIV/AIDS awareness campaign among its 600 strong working force following the spread of the pandemic in the mining town.

From January 1998 to 31 October this year 232 employees of the company were infected with 76 deaths while 133 of their dependants were also infected with 41 deaths.

The company has set up a 12-member HIV-AIDS management committee ''to critically look at the issue at stake and how the issue affects the miners.'' The committee has Mrs Elaine Kwami, General Manager, Human Resources, as chairman and is to educate the workers on the pandemic.

Speaking at the launch of the committee, Daniel Owiredu, Managing Director of Obuasi Mine, appealed to the workers to make the committee's HIV/AIDS awareness programme meaningful by demonstrating their commitment to manage their sex lives more responsibly.

He said the company had developed a policy that would attempt to address some of the issues raised in this years World Aids day theme.

As part of the policy, employees who showed symptoms of HIV/AIDS would continue to be employed until they are declared unfit to work.

Joseph K. Boampong, the Adansi West District Chief Executive, stressed the importance of safety among mine workers and appealed to them to protect themselves against practices that affect their safety.

He commended Madam Dina, an HV/Aids patient who spoke at the ceremony to demonstrate the reality of AIDS at Obuasi, for having the courage to serve as a facilitator to create awareness about the virus.