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General News of Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Men think they are less susceptible to HIV/AIDS – U.S Global AIDS Coordinator

The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has organized a round table discussion with journalists across Africa as part of its 15th Anniversary of operating in Africa and 10 years in Ghana.

Speaking to the press, Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, U.S Global AIDS Coordinator and US Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy said most men feel less susceptible to HIV/AIDS, therefore, making it difficult to detect the virus on time to combat it.

“Most men are being diagnosed only when they visit the hospital for Tuberculosis or malaria test, a time when the HIV virus is at its peak,” she said.

According to her, PEPFAR is working fervently to encourage young people to get regular tests by making the healthcare centers youth friendly and also to lessen the stigma attached to people diagnosed with the virus.

“If you can encourage young people to go to the healthcare delivery regular for test the epidemic will reduce drastically in the next 15years,” she said.

The Ambassador said, the highest stigma on the Africa continent is men who have sex with the same sex in countries where same sex marriage or relationship is deem illegal “ These men most often get arrested when they report at the health centers for treatment” she noted.

Answering a concern raised on capacity building in Africa by PEPEFAR, Ambassador Brix said "So over the history of PEPFAR we’ve invested billions in what we call “above-site”—those infrastructures, laboratories, clinics, building clinics, building district hospitals, renovating regional hospitals, but critically, creating an integrated lab system, and I think a way to ensure that that becomes wholly African and African-sustainable is, I think you know, we also created ASLM, the African Society for Laboratory Medicine, recognizing the importance of the laboratory, not only for PEPFAR, but for diagnosis of other diseases in the future, including the other infectious diseases, speaking of malaria, but also important for NTDs and critically important for the Global Health Security Agenda that we all share together.

And so that infrastructure, as well as the human capacity, has been built, but also African-specific components through the African Society of Laboratory Medicine, but also through the African CDC. The individual who is responsible, with us, to really design and work with countries to create the lab strategy, John Nkengasong, is currently the head of the African CDC, so knows very well the importance of this sustainability"

She said HIV/AIDS spread widely when people get complacent.

Background

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the U.S. Government initiative to help save the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS around the world.

The program to prevent the spread of AIDS and to support People Living with HIV (PLHIV) has operated in Ghana since 2007. Since the program’s inception, more than $132 million has been invested working with Ghana to address this global challenge.

In addition to PEPFAR, the United States remains the world’s greatest investor in the Global Fund. Several agencies and offices comprise the PEPFAR team at the US Embassy Ghana.

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