Ghanaians encouraged to know their HIV status to curb rising infections

By Advocates of Change
Health Ghanaians encouraged to know their HIV status to curb rising infections

An awareness, screening, and testing campaign targeting rural communities and remote senior high schools lacking nearby health facilities has been launched by Sahara Advocates of Change, with support from Gilead Sciences.

The campaign uses puppets to convey messages about the awareness and prevention of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). It began in the communities of Naakateng and Ba-o-jon in the Wa West District, where the closest health center in Gurungu is about 8 kilometers away. It then moved to Gbankonyiri and Baabayiri in the Bussie-Daffiam-Issah District, where the nearest health facility is 6 kilometers away in Konzokala. The final communities reached were Dodoma, Donye, Dompie, Dugbalipare, Tankara, Tambigye No. 1, and Tambigye No. 2 in the Wa West District, with the nearest health facility 10 kilometers away in Tokali.

The campaign also included Takpo Senior High, Sombo Senior High, Tibani Vocational Institute, and Loggu Senior High.

From April 4th to May 18th, 2024, a total of 613 rural community members and 449 senior high school students were sensitized, gaining a clearer understanding of these diseases and their impact. Voluntary screening, testing, and counseling were offered to 336 individuals, resulting in 10 positive HBV cases, all of whom were referred to the nearest hospitals for further diagnosis and treatment.

In addition to the community and school interventions, the project reached a wider audience through radio campaigns on five major stations in the Upper West Region, including Radio Mak, Info Radio, Home Radio, Radio Progress, and Tunsong Radio. These campaigns, conducted from April 22nd to 26th, 2024, had a combined listenership of over 780,000.

Community members, students, and school authorities have called for more interventions, as many were unable to participate due to farm activities and other commitments. Salifu Majeed of Nakaateng community expressed gratitude for the program and appealed for its return, noting that many neighbors missed it. Dagbol Thomas from Dodoma appreciated the initiative, as such advocacy, screening, and testing had never been provided for free at the community level. Mr. Tengenaang Ernest, Principal of Tibani Vocational Institute, thanked the organizers for including their school and emphasized the importance of such programs for students who are often too shy or afraid to visit health facilities for testing.

Several radio stations also expressed interest in collaborating on awareness campaigns for other diseases, highlighting the positive impact and demand for such initiatives.

Which team do you think has the higher chance of winning the 2024 elections?

Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024