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Health News of Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Source: GNA

Second national conference on HIV and AIDS Research

Accra, Feb. 12, GNA - The second National HIV and AIDS Research Conference (NHARCON) will be held in Accra in March to provide a platform for participants to discuss national response to HIV and AIDS and initiate a process of developing research priorities.

The conference, which will be under the theme "Sustaining a Comprehensive National Response to HIV and AIDS" and organized by the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), will bring together over 400 participants comprising national and international researchers, policy makers and implementers to also share knowledge and experiences with Ghanaian counterparts to enhance learning.

The first HIV/AIDS research conference was held in Accra in February, 2004 under the theme HIV and AIDS Research: Challenge for National Response'

Speaking at a media launch in Accra on Tuesday, Dr Sylvia Anie-Akwetey, Director of Policy, Planning, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation of GAC said the conference will focus on HIV prevention, women and other vulnerable groups, treatment, care and support, law and ethics.

The conference, which will have four main tracks in the areas of social sciences, epidemiology and basic science, clinical practice and interventions and best practices would also have seasoned national and international experts with up-to-date knowledge in their fields of endeavour from Ghana, South Africa, Canada, United States and Switzerland.

She said the research conference was in accordance with the goals of the National Strategic Framework for 2006 -2010, which aimed at reducing new infections among vulnerable groups and the general population, mitigating the impact of the epidemic on the socio-economic system as well as infected persons and promotes healthy lifestyles, in the area of sexual and reproductive health. Professor Fred T. Sai, Presidential Advisor on HIV and AIDS, Reproductive Health and Population issues said research was vital in the fight against HIV and AIDS since its findings would determine why women were said to be vulnerable and why some group of people responded to what treatment being offered and why other did not. He expressed concern about the low level of media participation in HIV and AIDS issues and urged them to exhibit high level of concern adding "the fight against HIV and AIDS can never be successful without the role of the media".

Professor Sakyi Awuku Amoa, Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission answering questions on the involvement of the traditional medicine practitioners who claim to have had a cure for HIV and AIDS said the identified and recognized ones were going to be part of the conference and the Ministry of Health would also hold another training specifically on traditional medicine immediately after the NHARCON conference.

On whether the distribution of five million condoms during the just ended Ghana 2008 Africa Cup of Nations tournament was successful and served its purpose, the GAC Director-General said reports indicated that four million condoms were distributed in Accra, Cape Coast, Takoradi, Kumasi and Tamale, hotels and some selected media houses. He refuted the fears and concern by the general public that the distribution of the condoms was to promote promiscuity and added that "Whether we like or not people had sex and all that we wanted to do was ensure that such people were protected".

Mrs Oboshie Sai-Coffie Minister of Information and National Orientation who chaired, reiterated that the fight against HIV and AIDS was the a multi sectoral one which demanded the minds and hands of each and every one and added that there was a political force led by President John Agyekum Kufuor "and that should be enough to show the seriousness the government attach to the fight". 12 Feb. 08

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