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16.05.2004 Regional News

Discrimination against HIV/AIDS victims persists-- Survey

By GNA

Aflao, (V/R) May 16, GNA - Despite the campaign to end discrimination against Persons Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), a survey report released in Aflao said between 52 to 53 per cent of adults and adolescents there still hold the opinion that such persons be isolated. The respondents contend that the PLWHAs could spread the disease either deliberately or through sharing of food and contaminating the air, the report said.

The Baseline Survey Report was based on research by Hope for Life, a Community Based Organisation (CBO) in the Aflagatigorme Electoral Area at Aflao in the Ketu District. Mr Cornelius Klutse, President of the CBO said at a durbar at Aflao on Friday to launch the report, that Aflagatigorme was picked for the survey because of its nearness to the border with Togo, its expanse and large population. He said the reference areas of the survey, meant to serve as data base for tackling the HIV/AIDS problem also included, awareness about the disease, condom use, premarital sex and extra-marital affairs.

The report indicated that 44 per cent of adolescents between 13 to 17 years have partners and 62 per cent have had sexual intercourse, with between 3 and 9.3 per cent adults having multiple sexual partners. It said 4.7 and 4.3 per cent of adolescents and adults respectively have not heard of condom use, while 56.7 per cent and 68.6 per cent of the same segments had never used condoms.

The report further stated that 31.4 per cent of adolescents and 45.9 per cent of adults who used condoms did so irregularly. It said 52.2 and 62.3 per cent of adolescents and adults respectively claimed they did not use condoms because they were ignorant about its application or it was not readily available.

Additionally, they thought condom use made sex bothersome and un-pleasurable. The report also said only one per cent of respondent adults knew of all the four modes of the transmission of the HIV/AIDS while adolescents knew of only a few. The report buttressed the HIV/AIDS situation in the Ketu District as captured by the Bio-Statistics Unit of the district Directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) between 2000 and 2003.

The Bio-Statistics report indicated that out of an average of 484 persons who took blood tests voluntarily to determine their HIV/AIDS status, for blood donation and transfusion and as Visa applicants, 215 or 44 per cent of them tested positive for HIV. It noted that the threat of the pandemic was not being matched with behavioural change and safe sex practices in the area and demanded a survey on the situation. Dr Michael Ahedor, Ketu District Director of the GHS said the findings of the survey should be source of concern for stakeholders in the HIV/AIDS prevention exercise. He urged the communities to put into practice the messages of the campaign to protect themselves and the future of the children.

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