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09.11.2004 Regional News

Public Must change attitudes towards AIDS - First Lady

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Accra, Nov. 9 GNA - The First lady, Mrs. Theresa Kufuor on Monday called for attitudinal change on the part of the public towards People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs).

He said dealing with the stigma attached to the disease was a vital step in stemming the spread of the epidemic across the country. Mrs. Kufuor whose speech was read by Mrs. Cecilia Bannerman, Minister of Mines, was speaking at the opening of a photo exhibition, dubbed "Positive Lives" in Accra.

The exhibition organised by ActionAid, Ghana, an International Non-governmental organization was designed to help educate the public on the need to reduce the stigmatisation associated with PLWHAs. The First Lady also said it was important to talk about the stigma because it affected the preventive measures such as condom use, HIV/AIDS testing, care seeking, perception and treatment of the disease. She called for continued awareness about the HIV/AIDS so that people could make informed decisions on the disease.

Mrs. Kufuor requested for increase access to treatment, care and support which included access to affordable anti-retroviral treatment, psychosocial support and good nutrition.

She further appealed to government to enact legislation and policies to protect the rights of PLWHAs, particularly in the workplace and in health care centres where they faced some worst forms of discrimination.

Professor Sakyi Awuku Amoah, Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission reiterated that stigma and discrimination was one area that continued to impact negatively on the society.

He called on civil society organizations to continue to create the awareness, provide care and support as well as conduct advocacy on key issues.

Professor Amoah also urged faith-based institutions to encourage their congregations to show compassion to PLWHAs, adding that, the media must continue to increase awareness as well as show positive images of PLWHAs.

Mrs. Taaka Awori Akuffo Gyimah, Country Director of ActionAid, Ghana said the exhibition was to help decrease the stigma and the ignorance associated with HIV/AIDS in the country.

She said it was expected that the event would challenge all well-meaning Ghanaians to show compassion and care to living with the disease.

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