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Regional News Wed, 16 Jan 2013

Four HIV Ambassadors share experiences with the public in Sunyani

Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo, acting Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister on Wednesday said two main factors contributing to the spread of HIV in the country was discrimination and stigmatisation.

He said most people living with the disease were afraid to go through counselling and testing to know their status because of public discrimination.

Mr Nyamekye-Marfo was addressing a Heart-to-Heart Caravan durbar to educate the citizenry about the disease and enable the Ambassadors share their experiences and challenges living as HIV persons to the public.

The Ambassadors were Reverend and Mrs John Azumah, Mrs Charity Danso and Ms Gifty Tokonoo.

They would visit churches, schools and communities on a nation-wide education programme to sensitise the public on HIV issues to increase comprehensive knowledge about the disease and appreciate the need to know one’s HIV status.

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He said everyone was at risk and asked the public to desist from discriminating and stigmatising people living with HIV.

Mr Nyamekye-Marfo said it was important to know one’s HIV status to prevent the spread of the disease and to begin treatment to be able to live a normal life.

He said it was unfair to deny people living with HIV employment and access to other facilities such as health and education since they were Ghanaians and had the right to enjoy every right as a citizen of the nation.

Mr Nyamekye-Marfo said ignorant of the public about the disease had sent many people to their graves and added that the disease was not only acquired through immoral acts but could be acquired through many other avenues.

He appealed to people living with the disease to visit the hospital for medication and avoid staying at prayer camps and shrines until their conditions deteriorated before seeking medical treatment. Mr Nyamekye-Marfo said the wealth of every nation was the health of its people because healthy people developed a nation.

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Mr Welbeck Amoani Twum, Brong-Ahafo Regional Technical Coordinator of Ghana Aids Commission, said people living with HIV undergo many challenges which could even lead suicide as they felt rejected.

He said some were sacked from their workplace, ejected by their landlords and even refused to be talked to because the public had the belief that living and communicating with people living with HIV could lead to the contraction of the disease.

Mr Twum said using animations and people under cover did not portray the reality of the disease to the public and therefore, the introduction of HIV Ambassadors was useful to prove its existence to the public and to show that contracting the disease did not mean the end of one’s life.

Source: GNA