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07.08.2004 Regional News

"Voluntary AIDS counselling, testing should be free"

By GNA

Ho, Aug. 7 GNA - Mr Cephas Ofori, Ho District Focal Person on HIV/AIDS, on Saturday advocated fee-free Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) for HIV/AIDS as motivation to encourage the citizenry to undertake such tests.

Mr Ofori was addressing the opening session of a weeklong trainers workshop for 30 selected youth from the Volta Region under the auspices of the Co-ordinating Committee to Combat HIV/AIDS (COCOAIDS), a consortium of Non-Governmental Organisations on HIV/AIDS.

The consortium comprised of the Ghana Red Cross Society, the Ghana Girl Guides Association, The Ghana Scout Association, The Young Men and Women's Christian Associations and the Head of State Award Scheme with sponsorship from the USAID and International Youth Foundation.

The programme, supported by the Prince of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, is being carried out on pilot basis in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania.

Mr Ofori noted that the 36,000 cedis fee being charged for the VCT was warding-off prospective volunteers who because of the prevailing economic difficulties thought it was not worth-while scraping the amount involved to know their HIV status.

He said free testing and support in the form of free food supplements would help in applying the brakes on the spread of the disease and prolong the lives of the victims.

Mr Ofori said: "Behavioural changes and our attitudes to sex continue to compound the national quest in stemming the disease, as many people are still not convinced that the disease is real."

Mr Kwame Gyimah-Akwafo, Chairman of COCOAIDS called for effective collaboration and networking among stakeholders to fashion out new strategies towards addressing adolescent sexual health related issues.

Mr Kwabena Nketia-Addae, Co-ordinator of COCOAIDS said the workshop was aimed at sharing experiences and harnessing resources to combat the disease.

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