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Regional News Mon, 27 Jun 2005

Nandom records high HIV/AIDS cases

Nandom (U/W), June 27, GNA - Figures released at the annual convention of the Nandom Student Union (NANSU) on Sunday revealed an alarming prevalence of HIV and Hepatitis 'B' infections in the Nandom area.

Mr. Columbus Bondong, Medical Assistant at the Nandom Hospital, said out of 156 clinical cases screened in 2004, 89 of them tested positive for HIV, 113 patients tested positive from 199 blood samples in 2003, while 130 carried the virus in 2002 after the screening of 479 patients. Hepatitis 'B' clinical cases recorded a similar trend during the same period with 60 testing positive from 197 cases in 2002, while in 2003 and 2004, out of 137 and 122 cases respectively 51 and 59 people had the disease.

The convention was organised to climax a 10-day HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis awareness campaign undertaken in 29 communities of the Nandom Traditional Area by members of the association who are on holidays in the area. This year's convention had the theme, "combating HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis in the Nandom area - the role of the youth".

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Mr Bondong said in 2004, out of 1,281 people who called at the hospital for blood transfusion, 136 of them carried the virus that causes AIDS while in 2003, 64 out of 833 people were found to have the virus. He attributed the high prevalence of HIV in the area to poverty that had induced seasonal migration of the youth to the urban centres. ''This problem could effectively be addressed if all-year round employment opportunities were created for the youth in the area,'' he said.

Mr Ambrose Dery, the Upper West Regional Minister, told the students to let their commitment to the campaign against the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis is backed by deed and not words alone. Mr Dery said, "as young people, you must watch yourselves because you are likely to fall victims if you do not practise what you tell the people or say in your message." He advised them against treating people living with HIV/AIDS as outcasts, otherwise, all the efforts to promote voluntary testing would be sabotaged.

The Regional Minister commended the students for using their holidays to embark on the campaign and urged them to collaborate with NGO's engaged in anti-HIV/AIDS activities in-order to avoid duplication. Mr Frederick Dery Gbaal, National President of the association, said the campaign was part of their contribution towards the development of the area.

Source: GNA
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