The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), under the auspices of the US Embassy, has organised HIV Anti-Stigma Campaign in the Aboadze Community in the Shama District of the Western Region.
The programme on the theme: “Reaching Epidemic Control by 2030”, was heralded by a drama by Aboadze Islamic ‘B’ Basic School to sensitise the public to abstain from subjecting persons living with HIV and AIDS to ridicule.
The Facility Manager for Twin City Energy, Mr. Joshva Ravi Kumar, said the company had consolidated its partnership with the US Embassy to implement an HIV Anti-Stigma programme in Aboadze.
According to him, PEPFAR of United States remained the world’s greatest investor in the Global Fund to touch lives and achieve epidemic control by 2030, adding that the information, experience and interactions with the HIV Ambassadors would positively affect all participants.
By the campaign, people would have reasons to desist from stigmatising persons who may test positive for HIV, he said.
He encouraged the leaders and members of the community, particularly the youth, to be actively involved as HIV and stigma in existence.
The Facility Manager, Mr. Kumar said the joint HIV /AIDS Campaign served as their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to the people of Aboadze.
The Media Specialist for United State Embassy’s PEPFAR, Madam Dzid Enyonam Kwame, said the focus activities of PEPFAR in the Western Region was to educate the people, especially students to appreciate the importance to protect themselves from acquiring the disease to stop stigmatising and discriminating against persons who tested HIV/AIDS positive.
She noted that when persons with HIV AIDs are appreciated it would go a long way to stop discriminating and stigmatising against them and it would also help protect their life spa
As maintained by Madam Kwame, HIV Anti-Stigma Campaign and the Undetectable equal to Untransmitable( U=U)Campaign was an initiative of PEPFAR started in 2003 by the then-President George W. Bush.
The campaign encouraged 95 per cent of people to get tested and put on medication for treatment to get their viral load suppressed.
stressed on that point, Madam Kwame said that HIV/ADIS did not have a cure or vaccine, but there was life-saving drugs, which helped people to live longer.
She expressed concern about stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, saying it had derailed efforts to achieve the UNAIDS Goal 90-90-90.
She warned that it was criminal to stigmatise and discriminate against persons living with HIV/AIDS.
Reverend Azumah and Mrs Charity Owusu Baylor, both HIV/AIDS ambassadors, recounted their ordeal as HIV/AIDS patients, saying that “when you cohabitate and eat with your neighbour the disease cannot be transmitted to the person since it is not contagious.”
They encouraged the public, especially the youth, to be bold and get tested to know their status to save them from getting the disease.
They advised the people to consider the need to stop stigmatising and discriminating against people with HIV/AIDS as this would protect them from psychological injuries or emotional wounds to help prolong their life span.
They appealed to the chief and DCE as well as the Assembly Member of the area to institute bye-laws to protect people living with HIV/AIDS to assist them to live their normal lives.
Nana Kobina Attom III, the chief of Aboadze and Mrs Efua Amoakoah Quansah, the District Director of Education, Shama Education Directorate, thanked the Twin City Energy and US Embassy for organising such an important programme.
Mr Joseph Amoah, the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Shama District, said about Three per cent of the population were HIV positive, adding that most were not aware they were carriers of the virus.
The DCE, therefore, called on people to adhere to preventable measures, including abstinence, use of condoms, faithfulness to partners, personal care and minimising of blood transfusion.
Mr Amoah said HIV related stigma and discrimination affected the general life of people living with the virus and their families.
He urged the various leaders to empower people to understand the mode of transmission and preventive measures.