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22.04.2004 Regional News

Youth still reckless with lifestyles in spite of HIV/AIDS pandemic

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Tsito-Awudome, April 22, GNA - Mr Edwin Darkey, Volta Regional Director of the Population Council on Wednesday observed that, in spite of the horrifying revelations about the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the youth continued to lead reckless and highly immoral lifestyles with impunity. He said social lifestyles portrayed by this segment of the society was sending negative impulses as a result of their total disregard to societal norms and values.

Mr Darkey made these observations during the official opening of a five-day-trainers of trainers' workshop for 50 youth of the Tema Diocesan Youth Fellowship of the Methodist Church, Ghana, at Tsito-Awudome.

The Tema Diocese comprised, Tema Circuit, Tema West, Tema North, Tema Manhean, Ashiaman, Kpone, Ningo Prampram, Ho and Peki. The workshop was themed, "Rescue the Perishing, Caring for the Dying" and sponsored by the Ghana AIDS Commission.

Mr Darkey said his worry stemmed from observing the behaviour of the youth during some social functions at the recent Easter festivities, which was plagued with the youth's affinity to abuse of alcohol, skimpy and lewd dressing and indulging in sexual promiscuity was the phenomenon.

He called on parents and guardians to re-double their efforts at re-orienting their children to conform to societal norms and values in order to stem the spread of the disease. Mr Darkey dared parents to follow the demeanour and exploits of their children and expressed optimism that their revelations would be shocking.

Togbe Setsu III, Fiator of Tsito-Awudome noted that adulterous lifestyles perpetrated by some laity and the clergy were militating against the quest to find a cure for the disease "as God's grace had eluded mankind".

He said the pandemic was no longer a health problem but a societal and developmental issue, which demanded a concerted approach.

Mr Cephas Ofori, Ho District Focal Person on HIV/AIDS said the surveillance rate of the Volta Region rose to 5.0 according to the 2002 statistics, while commercial sex workers, distant drivers and people living along the country's frontiers were heavily affected by the disease.

He said the major source of infection was through heterosexual means, constituting 80 per cent, while five per cent was through other means including blood and sharp implements.

Mr Ofori called on the general public to embrace the Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) to be aware of their status and behave accordingly.

Right Reverend Samuel Osei-Tutu Achamfuo-Yeboah, Bishop of the Tema Diocese of the Methodist Church called on government to make condom advertisement in the media illegal but preach abstinence, faithfulness and chastity as moral virtues to combat the scourge.

He said the disease was behavioural and therefore urged all and sundry to change accordingly and "stop thinking they are stronger than it, condoms only give false assurances".

Rt. Rev. Achamfuo-Yeboa entreated the Churches, civil society, state and private organisations to devise holistic strategies at stemming the pandemic.

Meanwhile, three persons living with the HIV/AIDS who shared their experiences with the participants urged NGOs to re-direct their resources towards the upkeep of HIV/AIDS patients since their cost of treatment had not only become expensive but also unbearable.

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