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General News of Sunday, 31 May 2020

Source: GNA

Stigmatising PLHIV puts the public on high risk


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The Ghana AIDS Commission’s (GAC) Technical Support Unit (TSU) for the Upper West Region has called for an end to stigmatization against Persons Living With HIV (PLHIV).

The practice, they said put the public on high risk of contracting the disease.

According to the TSU, stigma made people afraid to test and even those that tested positive were reluctant to disclose their status to their loved ones and also feared seeking health care, thereby posing high risk to the public and their own health.

Mr Dramani Yakubu, the Upper West Regional Coordinator of the TSU called for an end to stigmatization against PLHIV during a joint sensitization programme initiated by the Women in Agriculture Programme of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA).

He said PLHIV could equally engage in both animal and crop farming as they posed no risk in those areas, adding that just like all of us they equally had their rights protected in the laws of Ghana.

The HIV and AIDS sensitization, which took place at Varempare and Gudayiri communities in the Wa West and Wa East Districts respectively is a key outcome of the capacity building provided by the TSU to the MoFA staff to enhance the commitment and collaboration between the two institutions.

Famers and community members in both villages were taken through basic facts on HIV and AIDS including; how the virus can be contracted and transmitted; self and joint preventive guidelines against the infection; treatment and care as well as the importance of knowing ones HIV status.

There was also condom promotion and demonstration on how to wear both male and female condoms correctly and consistently while encouraging farmers to test and know their status and how that could be done through the health facilities at both communities.

Mr Yakubu noted that any farmer or community member just like all of us was at risk of contracting HIV unless they took preventive measures such as; Abstinence, mutual faithfulness to uninfected partner(s), consistent and correct condom use and being on medication if already positive.

He added that good knowledge of HIV and AIDS prevented misconceptions and helped in informed decision making.

He noted that PLHIV required adequate food and good nutrition for smooth adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Mr Yakubu advocated a number of things for PLHIV including; accepting and integrating them into communities; support for those of them that were food insecure; and release of farm lands to infected persons interested in farming especially women in agriculture.

Both communities were pleased with the team for the sensitization and indicated that it was an eye opener as majority of them used to hold on to the belief that HIV and AIDS was only associated with those in towns and cities.

Furthermore, they believed that none of them had HIV when in reality they have not tested to ascertain their status, saying the sensitization had helped dispelled that erroneous belief.

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