An initiative by the Eastern Regional Minister, Yaw Barimah towards tackling the pervasive HIV rate in the New Juaben Municipality, which ranks the highest in the country is bearing fruits.
One of such initiatives is the promotion of the Voluntary Counselling and Testing(VCT) among the residents of Asokore, a suburb of the New Juaben Municipality through the use of the Rapid Results Initiative(RRI), which has led to a total of 508 offering themselves for the test within 100 days.
Hitherto, barely four persons present themselves for VCT services in the area every month, but with the new initiative, the people of Asokore, which is one of the hardest hit by the HIV scourge in the New Juaben Municipality, were being encouraged to come to terms with the disease and take remedial steps to halt further infections.
At a durbar to access the initiative, residents reaffirmed their commitment to it, saying it has helped considerably in increasing the momentum and enthusiasm of the people towards tackling the disease.
Ms Rose Nani of the Municipal Health Directorate, who presented the findings, said VCT services, went up from four per month to 150 by December 2006 and further rose to 284 by January 2007, when the RRI started.
Of the 5,400 people reached, 508 presented themselves for the test of which 10 tested positive.
Ms Nani said the methodology has proven to be potent and will be useful when employed in other communities to help scale-up VCT services. She said it is only when people know of their status that they can learn to lead responsible lives.
She spoke against stigmatising HIV patients, saying rather than helping decrease the menace, it fuels animosity on the part of the suffers who might then exact their fury on healthy members of the society.
The Head of laboratory at the Regional Hospital, Koforidua (KRH), Ms Francisca Dzata, said the HIV menace has worsened the incidents of tuberculosis in Ghana and appealed to all citizens yet to know their HIV status to do so and help forestall a national catastrophe.
Ms Dzata enlisted the support of all towards a more responsible and productive attitude towards the control of HIV/AIDS in Ghana.
The Eastern Regional Focal Person on HIV/AIDS, Ms Golda Asante urged District Chief Executives in the region to adopt the RRI to help scale up VCT activities in their districts.