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14.05.2004 Regional News

Churches, mosques asked to incorporate HIV/AIDS messages in sermons

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Koforidua, May 14, GNA - Religious leaders in the Koforidua Municipality have been asked to incorporate HIV/AIDS messages in their sermons as part of the crusade to check the spread of the pandemic, whose prevalence rate is reported to be rising everyday.

The call was contained in a five-point resolution passed at a day's workshop on HIV/AIDS organised by the New Juaben Municipal Assembly on Wednesday and attended by 60 religious leaders drawn from the municipality. The workshop was under the theme: "Building an HIV/AIDS Competent Society Through Religious Leaders".

The resolution called on the assembly to help train counsellors in all churches and mosques to promote Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) as well as helping to build the capacities of religious leaders on HIV/AIDS to enable them reach out to their members. It called on the religious groups to provide care and support, show compassion to People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) to reduce the stigma and discrimination against them, while churches and mosques were asked to organise more activities that are youth friendly.

In an address, the New Juaben Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Kwasi Adjei Boateng, urged church leaders to design programmes that would prevent their members from getting infected with the disease or risk losing them. The Eastern Regional AIDS Co-ordinator, Dr S.B. Ofori, who spoke on the statistics of the disease, disclosed that the 2003 Sentinel Surveillance Report indicated that the New Juaben Municipality recorded a low HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 2.6 per cent as against the 8.5 per cent in 2002. He, however, cautioned against any jubilation since the municipality continued to record high figures on patients/blood donors screened in 2003 in the region. According to him, Manya Krobo district recorded the highest rate of 9.2 per cent indicating the district to be among the highest prevalent areas in the country.

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