16.09.2004 Education

Religious leaders to promote HIV/AIDS education in congregations

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Apam (C/R), Sept. 16, GNA - Religious leaders in the Gomoa District have decided to set up HIV/AIDS awareness education committees in their Churches and Mosques as part of the efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic. They have also decided to precede their sermons with HIV education. The Religious leaders made the pledge at one of the weeklong series of HIV/AIDS workshops at Apam organised by HACKY Film, a non-governmental organisation with funds provided by the Ghana AIDS Commission.

Other identifiable groups, which benefited from the series, included traditional rulers, beauticians, barbers, TBAs and chemical sellers, fishermen and farmers and chairpersons of Town/Area Councils. Mr Eric Akobeng, District HIV/AIDS Monitoring and Evaluation Focal Person, one of the resource persons, advised religious groups to become "income empowerment entity" by assisting their members without jobs to get employed. He deplored the attitude of parents who did not care about the whereabouts of their children, particularly the adolescent especially in night.

Mr Steve Hackman, Executive Director of the NGO, said people were reluctant to subject themselves to voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) because of the absence of care and support services for those who tested HIV positive. He said if people knew they would be provided with the needed care and support they would readily go for VCT to know their HIV status. The religious leaders deplored the way "meet me there" programmes were organised especially in the rural areas where it runs late into the night. They also called for "sanity" in the celebration of Valentine's Day.

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