An AIDS survivor has recounted a harrowing experience he had to endure at one of the leading hospitals in the country when he was diagnosed of the condition.
Reverend John Azumah, has recounted how medical staff of the Tema General Hospital sentenced him and his spouse to death when he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS some 18 years ago.
According to Rev. John Azumah, a nurse at the hospital blatantly told him and his wife to go home and prepare their wills since they had ‘signed an agreement with death’, moments after testing positive for HIV and AIDS.
Addressing an audience at the launch of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) anti-AIDS campaign in Accra, Ghana, Rev. Azumah narrated the insensitive reception given to him and his wife at the Tema General Hospital.
“The health facility was the first to stigmatize us and that day, I can never forget the story. I speak with evidence. Probably today, they have changed but I know some of those old attitudes still remain today. 18 years ago at the Tema General Hospital, when we did the [HIV] test, the nurse said ‘you and your wife are living with AIDS’. Then I asked, ‘what shall we do?’ Then she said, ‘You are going to die, because all your predecessors who came couldn’t survive. They all died.’ Then she added that if I had any property I could start selling them,” Rev. Azumah disclosed.
Media Specialist for the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, Dzid Enyonam Kwame
He commended the US government for the PEPFAR initiative which is aimed at helping curb stigmatization among HIV/AIDS patients, emphasizing the psychological effect such backward acts have on people living with HIV/AIDS.
“The programme of PEPFAR is to address these issues and make sure that we wash away all these issues because when the issues are with us, we cannot overcome the HIV we are all talking about,” he stated.
PEPFAR launched a campaign against the stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS at the Ridge Hospital Thursday, to mark its 15th anniversary, and coincidentally, ten years of operating in Ghana.
Medical staff at the Ridge Hospital were sensitized on the need to respect the privacy of persons living with HIV/AIDS since that is a major step in minimizing the stigma.