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Regional News of Wednesday, 30 July 2003

Source: GNA

Media urged to lead the crusade against HIV/AIDS

Sunyani, July 29, GNA - Mr Michael Mensah, Executive Secretary of Centre for Empowerment of the Vulnerable (CEV), an NGO, on Tuesday appealed to the media to play active role in the crusade against the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The pandemic is so threatening that if not well checked, it could have a profound impact on social and economic development of the country, he said.

He made the appeal at a two-day training workshop on HIV/AIDS/STDS jointly organized by the Centre for Sustainable Development (CSD), an NGO and Ghana AIDS Commission for media personnel in Sunyani. The workshop, under the theme: "Elimination of Stigma on HIV/AIDS persons and promotion on behaviourial change among HIV infected and uninfected persons", was aimed at educating the media on the pandemic as a developmental problem and to determine their roles in HIV/AIDS advocacy to come out with action plans towards behaviourial change among the people.

Mr Mensah stated that about 90 per cent of HIV cases are found among persons between the ages of 15 and 49.

Mr Mensah noted that records and reports of AIDS cases presented to the public were inadequate at all levels because people failed to seek health care while some doctors might not record the diagnosis of the pandemic because of the stigma attached to it. He said the Ministry of Health recorded 29,550 cases of HIV/AIDS in December 1998 but added, "there is much more to the pandemic than the number of reported cases".

The General Secretary urged the media to educate people to show love and compassion for those infected and not to shun them "since the virus cannot be transmitted by casual contact such as shaking hands and talking with the person".