Tarkwa (W/R), April 14, GNA - Diocesan Community Collaborative Care and Support (COMCASUP) a new HIV/AIDS project has been introduced at a stakeholders meeting at Tarkwa yesterday.
The project, which was designed by Catholic Relief Service (CRS) and Catholic Bishops' Conference, is funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and CRS.
It is being implemented through Catholic Diocesan Networks with technical assistance from strengthening HIV/AIDS Response Partnerships Project (SHARP) a Non-Governmental Organisation.
Mr John Dominic Andoh, project co-ordinator said the project with its Headquarters at Sekondi/Takoradi would work within thirty-four (34) parishes under the Sekondi/Takoradi Dioceses.
He however, said the projects would lobby the churches, Muslim council, chiefs, politicians among others to address stigmatisation and discrimination at all fora.
Mr Andoh said the direct beneficiaries of the project would be People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) and about three million (3,000,000) people from twenty-eight (28) districts in Eastern, Western and Ashanti regions would also benefit indirectly.
Outlining the goals of the project, Mr Andoh said it would improve the quality of PLWHA and OVCs by promoting supportive environment for target beneficiaries to enjoy their fundamental human rights with less stigmatisation and discrimination.
He said it would increase access to treatment, care and support services to beneficiaries among other things. Mr Andoh said education and sensitisation programmes could not bring about behavioural change, because of stigmatisation and discrimination but with care and support, people living with HIV/AIDS could come forward.
He said the project would facilitate the establishment of networks of national and regional associations of PLWHA, strengthen their capacity and establish linkages of PLWHA support groups and health care providers.
Various stakeholders from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) in the Wassa West District talked about their experiences in the process of disseminating HIV/AIDS information.
Mrs. Mary Fynn of Forum for Adolescents Concern and Transformation (FACT) an NGO based at Bogoso said FACT had trained some teachers in schools with regards to Adolescents Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS and STIs.
She said FACT also has formed an association of PLWHA, which meet fortnightly for counselling.
Mr John Amoako of Bompieso Youth Association, a CBO based at Bompieso, near Tarkwa was not happy about some churches, which refused their members access to HIV/AIDS information with the reason that church members would indulge in promiscuous lifestyles.
Sister Gifty Tagoe, Deputy Director of Nursing Services (Public health) disclosed that Voluntarily Counselling and Testing (VCT) would be opened at the Government Hospital, Tarkwa very soon for the public to test HIV/AIDS status.
Nana Kwabena Damoah, Abakomahene of Apinto, who chaired the function, said very often, partners used condoms at early stages in their sexual affairs but soon abandon it during subsequent ones. He said the practice is not good and therefore appealed to partners to go for test before they engage in sexual activity. He said the chiefs are not happy with the spread of the disease and therefore, appealed to individuals, philanthropists, companies and government to resource NGOs working on HIV/AIDS to do more to stem the spread of the disease.