Govt urged to institute new programmes to address HIV stigmatisation

Ghana’s HIV and AIDS Ambassador, Revered John Azumah has called on government to institute new programmes to address stigmatisation of the virus to stem the rate of infection in the country.

According to him, the judgmental minds of the public against people living with HIV and AIDS made people coil up and hide thus affecting the awareness creation of the disease.

Rev. Azumah, who has lived with the virus for more than two decades disclosed this in an interview with the Ghanaian Times on the sidelines of a sensitisation programme organsied by Inerela+ Ghana for community members of James Town in Accra on Friday.

The programme formed part of the ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV)’ campaign commemorated on every November 25 and the world AIDS day which comes off on December 1.

It was to educate residents of the James Town, on the dangers of enduring abusive relationships, effects of sexual immorality and the need to desist from discriminating against persons living with HIV.

Rev. Azumah said, even though government and the Ghana AIDS Commission were doing well, there was still more to be done.

He said the HIV stigma was still a canker which needed to be tackle appropriately in order to fight the disease.

“If we don’t fight stigma, we cannot fight HIV. We persons living with HIV believes that, HIV does not kill but stigma kills and so the government and the AIDS Commission shouldn’t leave the fight on, they should come back to the table with a new programme to address the stigma,” he added.

Rev. Azumah bemoaned on the stigmatisation in the churches and government institutions that denied persons living with HIV some opportunities to their rights.

He appealed to religious leaders to reverse the current trend and allow persons living with HIV and AIDS right to marriage and state institutions to also avoid stigmatisation when recruiting, because they also had the right to a decent employment.

Rev. Azumah advised the public to accept and use the antiretroviral drugs when declared HIV positive, to extend their lifespan.

The National Coordinator for Inerela+Ghana, Mrs Mercy Acquah-Hayfordadmonished the public especially the youth to be self-cautious, and abstain from premarital sex or use condom when the need arose to protect them against the virus.

She also urged women to engage themselves in some businesses to become self-reliant to reduce their dependence on men.

Mrs Acquah-Hayford called for more allocation of resources for social welfare to help carry out its duties and provision of shelters for victims of Sexual and Gender Based Violence.

The Legal Officer at the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAG), Mr Cephas Essiful Ansah, encouraged women and girls to speak up and report person who abuse them to appropriate authorities.

The Developmental Queen Mother of Adanse, James Town, Naa Adanse Kornye commended Inerela+Ghana for such a programme to sensitise the community.

She advised parents to befriend their children to know their wants and needs, and also work hard and invest much of their resources in their children as this would help reduce teenage pregnancy in the community.


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