Sunyani, Dec 20, GNA - Mrs Joana Opare, Manager of the United Nations System Gender Programme, said an HIV sentinel survey conducted by the National Aids/STI Control Programme last year, indicated that pregnant women in their 40s had the highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection. She said the study was carried out on pregnant women aged between 15 and 49 years who attended antenatal clinic for the first time and newly diagnosed sexually transmitted infected persons.
Mrs Opare was speaking at the opening ceremony of a three-day Gender HIV/AIDS sensitization and counselling workshop, organized by the Beauty In Virginity Club for Queen mothers and Opinion Leaders in Sunyani.
The workshop, attended by 50 representatives drawn from the Brong-Ahafo Region and sponsored by UN System Gender Programme, aimed at enhancing the capacity of the participants to facilitate HIV/AIDS education.
Mrs Opare expressed worry that many women could not demand for condom use or refuse unsafe sex because of the subordinate position of women in society and other due to poverty could not free themselves from relationships that could result in HIV/AIDS infection.
She also said rape, widow inheritance, early and forced marriages could increase women and girls' vulnerability to the disease. Mrs Opare, therefore, appealed to all Ghanaians to collaborate to address the social, cultural and economic factors that contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Mr Ignatius Baffuor Awuah, Sunyani Municipal Chief Executive, commended the Queen mothers for participating in the workshop to acquire skills to enable them become effective counsellors to support HIV preventive programmes.
He noted that the role of Queen mothers in the prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS was crucial since they had great influence on the people, particularly women.
Mr Ignatius Baffuor Awuah, asked the public not to discriminate against People Living with HIV/AIDS since that could increase the spread of the disease.
Mrs Theodora Owusu Asubonteng, the President of the Club, appealed to traditional authorities to support HIV/AIDS programmes to prevent the spread of the disease.
The participants were educated on the scope, causes, and prevention of HIV/AIDS and how to minimise the stigmatisation and discrimination against people infected with HIV/Aids. 20 Dec 04