The day is meant to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and is said to demonstrate international solidarity in the efforts to manage the pandemic as no cure for it has been found since its outbreak in 1981.
In Ghana, the first case of the disease was reported in March 1986 and by the end of 1988, cases had accumulated at 600 per cent.
This rapid rate of infections was all because of lack of the right information about its acquisition and the superstitious attitude of Ghanaians that those who had acquired the disease had been cursed and therefore were suffering the effects.
This is not strange because other countries too had their own perceptions about the pandemic.
For instance, in the US, the disease was first detected among gay men in New York and California and described as a mystery disease thought to be exclusive to them.
Today, there is still no cure for the disease but there is so much information about how it is acquired, the number of infections, its devastation on patients, their families and the entire society, the lives it has so far claimed and its prevention.
December 1 every year has been dedicated as World AIDS Day for all the events, including public lectures, to remind society of the pandemic and its devastation.
Besides, we know that health workers are also doing their best to educate the public about the disease.
It is unfortunate that some members of the Ghanaian society have wished away the disease and so avoid all the precautions for its prevention, particularly safe sex.
Meanwhile, HIV/AIDS infections in the country keep rising.
Imagine that 23,495 people out 948,094 tested positive for the disease from January to June, this year alone.
We agree with a statement made in August this year by the Programme Manager of the National STIs and HIV/AIDS Control Programme, Dr Stephen AyisiAddo, that even though the 23,495 is seen as just two per cent of 948,094, this is too much, considering the devastation of the disease.
It is sad to learn from the doctor that, in spite of all the efforts in creating awareness, “Some youth today don’t know HIV is there. Some know, but they have assumed that it’s gone. People are now more afraid of COVID-19 and the Marburg fever than they are of AIDS.”
We, therefore, urge families, churches, the mosques, schoolsand other institutions to join the HIV/AIDS awareness campaign and do it regularly at the slightest opportunity.
Besides talking about its prevention, they should encourage testing as knowing one’s HIV status helps one to now adopt new ways of living as prescribed by doctors and other caregivers.
The good news is that patients who take their medication as expected can be strong and eventually reach the non-detectable that stage, which means they cannot transmit the virus to others.
HIV/AIDS is still lurking around, so let everyone stick to the preventive measures.