Story: Samuel Duodu, Sampa
THE District Chief Executive (DCE) for Jaman North District in the Brong Ahafo Region, Madam Elizabeth Obah, has called on women’s groups to relentlessly work in support of the fight against stigmatisation of persons living with HIV.
She also asked them to collaborate with health officials to mount intensive public education campaign to help control the spread of the disease.
She said, “I strongly believe that if women decide to play active role in public education against HIV, the fight will eventually be won, because women are caring, peace lovers and are focused on whatever we decide to do, and we do it well.”
Madam Obah stated this at a day’s sensitisation seminar organised by the Brong Ahafo Regional Directorate of the Department of Women on the theme “Womanhood, Reducing Stigmatisation and HIV and AIDS” held at Sampa, the district capital.
She described the theme for the seminar as appropriate and important, and pointed out that women could not be ignored in society if the nation seriously wanted to tackle the fight against any epidemic.
Madam Obah said it was important to deal with the issue of stigmatisation against People Living with HIV and AIDS, so that HIV positive persons would not hide their status in order to continue to spread the disease.
She said there was a shred of evidence that some HIV positive persons had lived a healthy and positive life for more than 15 years after testing HIV positive, and pointed out that if the disease was accepted like any other chronic diseases such as TB, diabetes or hypertension, then those living with the virus would equally feel accepted by their own communities.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Director of the Department of Women, Madam Victoria Owusu-Kyeremaa, for her part, stated that the regional prevalence rate of the disease reduced from 3.2 per cent in 2005 to 2.7 per cent in 2006, and the worst affected people were women, adding that the most important lesson to be learnt was to prevent new infection and improve the quality of care for people living with HIV and AIDS.
She disclosed that the regional secretariat had decided to choose Sampa for the seminar, since it was a border town where many people might pass through to their various destinations and, therefore, the residents needed to be extra careful with their behaviour.
Madam Owusu-Kyeremaa further stated that education on the disease was important at the time that the nation was hosting the Ghana 2008 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, and urged all, especially parents, to take good care of their children so as not to expose them (the children) to situations which could result in their trafficking.
She also urged the people in the district to take all recommended precautionary measures to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS, and urged the youth to stay away from risky sexual and other immoral behaviour.
An HIV/AIDS Counsellor at Sampa, Hajia Amina Amadu, who presented a paper on the theme, called for education for community members on the effects of stigmatisation and discrimination, and urged all to show love, compassion, care and support for persons living with HIV/AIDS.