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Health News Mon, 29 Jun 2009

High rate of HIV/AIDS in Eastern Region worrying-Minister

Koforidua, June 29, GNA - Mr Samuel Ofosu- Ampofo, Eastern Regional Minister, has expressed concern about the high rate of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the area.

He said even though the National Prevalence rate had reduced according to the 2008 Sentinel Survey Report, the region still occupies first position on the national chart with a prevalence rate of 4.2 percent.

"This clearly shows that the fight against the spread of the pandemic is a Herculean one which needs the involvement of all and sundry," the minister said.

Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said this at an HIV/AIDS programme aimed at reducing new infection among young people in Koforidua on Friday. The program, a project for HIV/AIDS prevention through education, is a collaborative effort of the Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA) and Sony Electronics launched in 2005 and ends in September. Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said the government was appreciative of the pivotal role JICA was playing in the socio-economic development of the country and that government would do everything possible to complement their efforts, especially in the areas of HIV/AIDS prevention. He commended the two organizations for training over 60 peer educators to provide quality information on HIV/AIDS for both in and out of school youth in the New Juaben Municipality.

Mr Ofosu-Ampofo appealed to JICA to increase the number of peer educators to help reduce the prevalence rate in the region. The regional minister said the government was committed in ensuring that the HIV/AIDS menace was drastically reduced if not eliminated. He said in view of that, government would negotiate with World Health Organization (WHO) and other agencies to ensure that the recently introduced programme to provide free antiretroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS patients was expanded.

The country representative of JICA, Mr Kuhihiro Yamauchi, said the project was currently running in six districts in the Eastern Region and four districts in the Asante Region.

He said the project's biggest challenge was people's negative attitude towards HIV/AIDS which had been preventing them from understanding the virus well.

Source: GNA