HIV no longer a disease – US Press Attaché

By A. B. Kafui
Kanyi, GNA   

Ho, Nov. 29, GNA –
Ms Naomi Mattos, the Press Attaché at the US Embassy in Accra, has observed
that HIV was no longer a disease but a condition, needing support to
“kill” stigma and discrimination associated with it.

She said it was time
people understood the condition to be an issue for everybody and shunned
discriminatory attitudes.

Ms Mattos said this
when she interacted with staff of the Ho Municipal Hospital as part of
activities marking this year’s World AIDS Day and the 10th anniversary of US
President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in Ghana.

campaigning on the sub theme “HIV Stigma and Discrimination Kills. Just
Stop It”, and targeting 14 to 18 year olds with messages of prevention and

“We need to
recognise that we are part of the solution and not become a barrier”, Ms
Mattos stressed and tasked the media to help lift up the campaign against
stigma and discrimination to meet the 90-90-90 targets for 2020 and AIDS free
world in 2030.

Agenda 90-90-90 means,
90 percent of persons will know their HIV status, 90 percent will be on
antiretroviral drugs and 90 percent of people living with the condition would
have viral suppression in subjecting the HIV and AIDS disease under control and
avoid spread.

Mrs Dzid Enyonam
Kwame, a Media Specialist with PEPFAR, noted that stigma continued to drive
down progress in eradicating HIV in the country, and called for concerted
efforts to address the challenge.

She urged health
workers and caregivers to lead the campaign against stigma by being
professional on and off duty and encourage people to test and access care.

Mrs Kwame said
confidentiality was key in eradicating stigma and asked health workers, the
main source of hope for people with HIV condition to keep the trust.

Reverend John
Azumah, an HIV Ambassador, said health workers could help stop stigma by
sticking to regulations on medical data.

He said stigma
discouraged more than half of the estimated 350,000 people living with HIV in
Ghana from seeking medical care, increasing the prevalence.

Rev. Azumah said
practices at health facilities such as name calling, folder marking and the
designation of special beds to people with HIV condition should be stopped.

He asked people
living with HIV condition to use a reporting platform developed by the
Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice to seek redress.

Rev. Azumah called
on stakeholders to consider the teaching of HIV care giving- in health training
institutions to “kill” stigma and discrimination in student nurses
before they got into the wards.

Mr Charles Torkonoo,
Administrator of the Ho Municipal Hospital, said the facility planned on
establishing a purposefully built and well-resourced anti-retroviral centre,
with client friendly environment, and called for support.


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