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03.09.2004 Regional News

Don't stigmatize AIDS victims - Population Officer

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Drobo (B/A), Sept. 3, GNA - Mr Kofi Agyei Adoquaye, Brong-Ahafo Regional Population Officer on Wednesday cautioned Ghanaians to desist from stigmatizing victims of HIV/AIDS to help curb its spread. He called on business entities to assist in sensitizing the people on the pandemic and its negative impact on national development.

Mr Adoquaye was speaking at the launch of a one-year HIV/AIDS campaign programme at Drobo in the Jaman District of Brong-Ahafo. The programme was organized by Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), an NGO and supported by Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), to sensitize the people on the dangers of HIV/AIDS, its prevention and contraction.

Mr Adoquaye explained that, since the pandemic was real and had no cure, there was the need to show compassion for victims who could then be stopped from spreading the pandemic.

"The money allocated for the fight against the pandemic could then be used on other development projects", he said and called on religious leaders, traditional rulers, NGOs and business entities to help curb the pandemic.

Mr Seth Sakyiamah, Brong-Ahafo ISODEC Focal Person, explained that his outfit would integrate the campaign programme into ISODEC's existing girl-child education project, which had been implemented in five districts in Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo Regions.

He mentioned Jaman North and South, Asutifi North and South districts in the Brong-Ahafo Region and Ahafo-Ano North district in the Ashanti region as beneficiaries of the girl-child project.

Mr Sakyiamah said ISODEC would work in 50 communities in each of the five districts, adding that ISODEC had 20 study clubs, management teams and 15 beneficiaries of scholarships in each district.

He said the Centre would also mount symposia, durbars and video shows to facilitate the project activities in the various communities.

The Focal Person expressed the hope that at the end of the project the Centre would have registered 50 PLWHA counselors and peer educators, provided scholarships to 50 orphans and children, to continue their education, while 5000 people in 150 communities would also have been sensitized on HIV/AIDS.

In another development the Jaman District Assembly has organized a two-day workshop for 40 members of the district's HIV/AIDS Committee selected from the Assembly, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana Health Service, Ghana Education Service and the Department of Parks and Gardens.

The participants were taken through the difference between HIV and AIDS, modes of transmission and some basic facts about the pandemic.

Mr Kwame Gariba, Jaman District focal person said, the prevalence rate had increased from 7.1 per cent in 2003 to 7.4 per cent this year. He urged the participants to operate effectively so people could change their sexual behaviours to help curb the spread of the disease.

Mr Gariba announced that, a stakeholders' workshop would be organized by the Assembly to collate views to formulate a district HIV/AIDS strategic plan for effective and efficient campaign programme in the district.

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