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General News of Thursday, 23 April 2020

Source: Christian Kpesese, Contributor

NGOs advocate support to PLHIV, sex workers in the midst of coronavirus pandemic

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In the wake of the global fight against the deadly Coronavirus, Ghana-West Africa Project to Combat AIDS and STI (WAPCAS) and Pro-Link Organisation, a Non- Governmental Organisation (NGO), is advocating special attention and assistance to PLHIVs, TB clients and commercial sex workers.

Known as WAPCAS/Pro-Link, the NGO focuses on health, education, sexual and reproductive health, and basic human right education.

According to the NGO, an urgent education amongst the community some of whom are living with HIV/AIDS is crucial because of their constant interaction with the general population to avoid infection and spread.

The conditions of people living with HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB) predisposes them to easily contract the coronavirus and their symptoms more likely to graduate into severity within a short time of infection as compared to the people whose immune systems are not compromised.

In 2018, national estimates and projections pegged HIV/AIDS prevalence in Ghana at 1.69%; meaning an estimated 600,000 Ghanaians are living with HIV.

The current HIV prevalence rate among female sex workers (FSWs) is 7% and 18.1% among men who have sex with men (MSM) respectively, this according to the NGO constitutes a critical number of Ghana’s population that needs special attention.

A press release signed by Executive Director of Pro-Link, Edem Assisi, explained that it is very crucial to direct attention to above segment of the population for education to help curb the spread of the disease and its potential fatalities.

It is also urging commercial sex workers and their patrons to adhere to hygiene protocols during this COVID-19 period to avoid becoming victims.

As part of the COVID-19 public education mandate, Pro-Link has received significant support from its donor partners including USAID/JSI and Global Fund/WAPCAS targeting Community members during the pandemic. WAPCAS especially has supplied stimulus food packages to more than 7000 PLHIVs, TB clients and FSWs across the country which deserves commendation.

Hand sanitizers, nose masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) have also been made available to all volunteers and staff working with community members across the country to educate them on the coronavirus.