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13.01.2005 Regional News

Churches advised to encourage voluntary HIV testing

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Kumasi, Jan. 13, GNA - A Medical Practitioner has suggested to Churches to use their pulpits to encourage adults of their congregation to opt for voluntary HIV counselling and testing.

Dr. (Mrs) Catherine Dawson-Amoah, Head of the Public Health Unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), said this way, Churches would not only be helping people know their HIV status but they would also be contributing practically to checking spread of the disease.

Dr. Dawson-Amoah made the suggestion when she addressed the opening session of a three-day first Provincial HIV/AIDS co-ordinators workshop in Kumasi on Wednesday. It was designed to create a platform for Christians to strategise and adopt measures to help combat the AIDS pandemic.

The workshop was organised by the Kumasi Catholic Ecclesiastical Province in collaboration with the Centre for Human Development (CEHUD) of the Catholic Secretariat and sponsored by the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC).

The 37 participants, representing various facets of the Catholic Church, were drawn from five dioceses of the Kumasi Arch Catholic Province, including the clergy, youth and women. Dr. Dawson-Amoah expressed optimism that those, who through voluntary testing, found they had the disease would most often guard against spreading it, while those who tested negative would also try to live lives that would continue to protect them against the disease. She said apart from enticing more people to go in for voluntary testing and counselling, the church also owed it a moral duty to educate its members and instil in them the spirit of compassion for victims of HIV.

Reverend Father Raphel Peprah, Director CEHUD, noted that even though enough awareness had been created about the menace, there was still more room for intensification of the awareness since the disease was till spreading fast.

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