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06.06.2004 General News

West African Governments urged to take measures of preventing

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Tuberculosis AND HIV/AIDS

Accra, June 5, GNA- West African Governments should start implementing policies aimed at preventing Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, by studying the situation, apply preventive measures, and looking for effective mechanism, to step up efforts of curbing the spread of the disease.

The TB-HIV/AIDS, which is a major health and social problem worldwide, has also brought about adverse impacts on economic and social development of many countries.

The diseases are partly spread by sex workers (prostitutes) who ignore all safe measures and laid down regulation in their trade for the sake of money to go in with "raw" in all aspects of sex. Since the first report on AIDS patient in Ghana was published, the number of HIV carriers and AIDS patients has increased thus increasing the death rate in the country. So far, Many Ghanaians have been infected with HIV/AIDS.

Cote d'Ivoire that share common border with Ghana is West African country with the largest HIV/AIDS population. Majority of HIV carriers and AIDS patients in Ghana now are young people who had returned from some of the highly infected countries where they went to seek greener pastures.

They are now living in the urban areas and currently practicing prostitution for a living and are continuing infecting thousands of innocent people.

West African Governments should therefore, take measures to create public awareness about the disease, crack down on crimes that cause the spreading of HIV, such as drug addiction and prostitution; monitoring the situation carefully; and implementing policies for the treatment of HIV/AIDS.

The key to stopping the epidemic in Ghana and some parts of the West African sub-regions is the re-introduction of cultures like "Bragro" of the Akans and Dipo of the Krobos and many others, which protected West African Girls from indulging in sex before marriage, and made them to be ideal women in their communities and states.

Forgetting about foreign cultures would go a long way to protect our young girls from unsafe sex and build in them, good morals thus reducing sexual transmission of HIV-which makes up to 80 per cent of infections. HIV infection like many infectious diseases tends to cluster geographically.

Prevention should therefore target areas where HIV infection is most likely to be initiated or occur.

Ghana has been identified as having a relatively low HIV/AIDS prevalence. This therefore provides an opportunity to prevent further infections and growth of the epidemic thereby providing an example to Africa and the World of how HIV/AIDS could be contained. While the government has to be the leading force in the efforts to control HIV/AIDS, Ghanaians of all walks of life should join hands to control the disease.

West Africa Governments should study international experience and combine it with Africa's own experiences to prevent it.

Really TB-HIV/AIDS is tearing families apart in this country as parents' watch their children and loved ones die before them. It is becoming a global crisis, which Africa had not seen before, leaving about 11 million children below 15 years, without parents.

This figure could grow to 20 million by the end of the Decade and it is hard to comprehend the idea of so many children without parents, without emotional support and love. Yet there is hope, which is within every one of us who takes the time to work together to fight HIV/AIDS. In all over the world there are volunteers willing to share their time, energy, love and their skills to make things a little better for someone else.

Ghana our beloved country is yet to suffer the brunt of the pandemic as Zambia had suffered.

If Kuwait which is a Moslem country and practice Sharia laws and forbids prostitution can detect 1,050 cases of AIDS between 1984 and 2003, then African countries where sex trade laws are not stringent due to economic problems should be careful about the disease and take drastic measures to save its citizens.

In South Africa young women are more vulnerable to HIV infection as about 77 per cent of them are infected with HIV. This, researchers blamed on inadequate awareness of self-protection during sexual behaviours.

Nearly one in every four women aged between 20 and 24 was HIV positive, compared with one in 14 men of the same age.

This gap in infection rates among young men and women is admittedly "huge," and far bigger than anything seen internationally.

At least million people in South Africa were HIV positive or full-blown AIDS patients, making the 45-million-people, one of the hardest-hit nations by HIV/AIDS in the world.

Although condoms were available free of charge at all clinics in South Africa, 31 percent of the youth said they never used any. Science Prevention TB-HIV/AIDS (GNA Feature) VACCINES:

A report from East Africa indicated that initial test on two vaccines developed under the Kenya AIDS Vaccines Initiative (KAVI) are promising Researchers believe that vaccine is the best possible way to control and prevent of HIV/AIDS, just like other killer diseases such as smallpox and lately polio.

HIV/AIDS has become a reality in Africa. It is seriously affecting people's health and the countries' economies. According to the latest figures issued by the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), about 26.6 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are living with HIV/AIDS out of the 40 million cases worldwide, and about 2.3 million Africans died of HIV/AIDS in 2002.

WHO reports indicates that International Health Officials has launched dual attack on HIV/AIDS and TB and has issued new guidelines to national health officials on how to approach Tuberculosis and HIV infections.

The objective according to WHO is to cure patients of TB and manage the HIV infection to prevent AIDS.

TB/HIV co-infection affects 14 million people, with 70 per cent of those cases in Africa. Tuberculosis is among the most common opportunistic infections that attack an individual whose immune system is left vulnerable by HIV.

According to WHO some 80 per cent of TB patients are HIV infected and the lung disease affects about half of all people with HIV. Screening and testing patients to properly identify who is infected with one or both of the diseases is a key element in the new initiative. Incorporating HIV testing into mainstream health programmes and treating TB patients would identify more people for treatment with Antiretroviral Drugs (ARVs). Those medicines could also help stop the development of TB in people who are HIV positive.

Even though some African countries are trying their best to prevent the menace, more efforts are needed to protect our future generation and leaders. 5 June 04

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