28.05.2004 Regional News

Don't avoid people living with AIDS

28.05.2004 LISTEN

Nkawie (Ash), May 28, GNA- Ghanaians have been told not to discriminate against people living with HIV/AIDS if the country is to stem the rate at which the disease was spreading.

Maame Pokuaa Boakye, an Executive Director of AIDS Volunteers Ghana Association (AVGA), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), who made the call, said when the stigmatisation is stopped, people who do not know their health status would go for voluntary counselling and test.

She was addressing a day's seminar organised for hairdressers, seamstresses, barbers and opinion leaders organised by AVGA at Nkawie on Friday.

Maame Pokuaa attributed the high rate of the disease to population mobility and commercial sex.

She pointed out that environmental degradation and unemployment encourage the migration of people especially the youth to the urban centres to increase the rate of migrant workers.

Maame Pokuaa said migrant workers return home with the disease and pass them on to their wives or girl friends.

She said, however, that due to the stigmatisation attached to the disease those infected refused to make it public and spread it.

"We must break this to enable people freely go for counselling and testing. This is the only way we can stop the spread of the pandemic", she said.

Maame Pokuaa said AVGA with the support of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), has started giving free counselling and testing to 10 communities in the Atwima district and named them as Abuakwa, Nyinahin, Otaakrom, Nkawie, Toase, Mpasatia, Mim, Sepaase, Afari, Akropong and Barekese.

Mr Charles Mensah, an assemblyman for Nkawie, commended AVGA for its programme and advised people to feel free to go for the test.

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