29.04.2004 General News

No mandatory HIV test for the Police -IGP

29.04.2004 LISTEN

Accra, April 29, GNA - The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Nana Stephen Owusu Nsiah says there would neither be mandatory HIV test before recruitment nor would personnel already in the Service be compelled to undergo HIV/AIDS test against their will.

"Knowing one's status would guide him or her to make informed decisions in respect of diet and activities to be engaged in to increase affected persons' life spans" he said.

He, therefore, called on Police Personnel and all Ghanaians who did not know their HIV status to use the Police free Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) Centre in the Regions to know their status. These were contained in a speech read for the IGP at the end of the Ghana Police VCT Programme, an HIV/AIDS Project.

Nana Nsiah said the Police Administration would not discriminate against any personnel based on his/her HIV status. However, he said, the Administration would ensure a healthy Police Service by encouraging officers and men to access the free VCT as a strategy for HIV prevention.

The VCT Centres were established 1998 with support from family Health International, the Ghana AIDS Commission and USAID to take bold and proactive steps to fight the HIV menace in the Service and the larger Ghanaian society as a whole.

He said research had shown that security personnel were likely to have casual sex partners during the prolonged periods that they were away from their families adding that the Police Service was proud to contribute their quota towards the national crusade against the social canker consuming the very fibre of human existence.

Dr Nii Akwei Addo, Programme Manager of the National Aids Control Programme (NACP), noted that his outfit had started a care and support programme (a trainer of trainees' AIDS programme) for the military and would soon have talks with the police to involve them in the programme.

Dr Kwame Essah, Country Director of Family Health International said the workshop was a unique opportunity to discuss aspects of VCT implementation. He commended the team of Counsellors, who have committed themselves to working to reverse the HIV epidemic in the country.

Papers presented by representatives from the Police Hospital, Salvation Army, Saint Martins and the Atua Government Hospitals' VCT Centres, said the way forward for the centres was to sustain public interest, subsidise testing fees, reducing stigma and discrimination and providing antiretroviral therapy. 29 April 04

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