AN official of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), Mr Emmanuel Nuworzah, has described the recent call by the Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), Prof Sakyi Awuku Amoah, for prostitution to be legalised in the country as a step in the right direction.
According to him, the legalisation of prostitution was not meant to give a licence to anyone to be promiscuous but to offer the opportunity for the easy identification of those in the trade in order to target them for behavioural change techniques.
Mr Nuworzah was speaking at the second annual Students' Health Week celebration of the University of Ghana Allied Health Students' Association (UGAHSA) in Accra on Tuesday.
According to him, the illicit nature of the practice had made it difficult to target practitioners for programmes. He said if prostitution was legalised, it would make it easy for those involved to be identified, counselled and offered an alternative livelihood.
He said in the long term, it would result in a reduction in the number of prostitutes, as well as the rate of HIV infection.
Mr Nuworzah said since prostitution was illegal as of now, it drove those who practised it underground. He said behavioural change was basic to the ABCs of the prevention of HIV/AIDS, since the need to put on condoms, to be faithful to one's partner and abstain all demanded some change in behaviour.
He said behavioural change was a difficult and gradual process and charged the students to increase their interpersonal relationships with friends, relations and peers to influence people for a change in behaviour.
Mr Nuworzah said advocacy had to be increased to let people know that HIV patients were more susceptible to tuberculosis (TB) in order to also reduce the prevalence of TB.
He said if attention was not paid to the direct observation treatment programme, TB cases would increase and become endemic, just as the HIV/AIDs pandemic, since the two had a symbiotic relationship.
In an interview, the President of UGHASA, Mr Terry Addo Vanderpuye, said a lot of programmes had been targeted towards alerting people to the use of condoms, abstinence and faithfulness to sexual partners.
He said the students wanted to take the advocacy further by focusing on behavioural change among the youth as the basis for adhering to the fundamental principles in the prevention of HIV/AIDS and TB.