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10.09.2002 General News

Condom use should not be mandatory - Rev.

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The Most Reverend Thomas Mensah, the Episcopal Chairman for Health of the Catholic Church, on Monday said no attempt should be made by governments to make condom use mandatory. He said governments should preach the "culture of life and not death". "We should not be seen to be promoting other people's industry through the promotion and sale of condoms," Rev. Mensah said, at the opening of a five-day seminar on the "Role of the Catholic Intellectuals in Combating the HIV/AIDS Menace." It was organised by the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) in Accra. Rev Mensah deplored some reports that condoms were being made available in hotels and noted that hotels were not brothels. He urged governments to help make anti-retroviral drugs affordable for the poor and needy. Vice President Aliu Mahama, in a speech read for him, said the youth needed to be well informed and empowered to reduce the risk of transmission.

He called on religious groups to educate all segments of the society on the AIDS menace.

Touching on the devastating effects of the scourge on the African continent, Alhaji Aliu said the disease had become a developmental crisis.

He said as at the end of 2001, some 40 million people had become infected with the disease since it made its appearance, with Africa recording around 28.1 million of the figure.

He said Ghana had since 1986 recorded over 56,587 cases of the disease, which claimed three million lives in 2001 globally.

Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Education, in a speech read for him, said even though Ghana's three per cent HIV prevalence rate was low as compared to other countries, there were high pockets of prevalence rates in certain parts of the country.

He said a prevalence rate of 40 per cent was recorded among some students from second cycle schools, who donated blood, recently.

He said the Education Ministry had opened a secretariat, which would be responsible for the prevention of new infections among the youth.

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