17.04.2005 General News

HIV/AIDS status should not be a condition to marriage

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Accra, April 17, GNA- The Director General of Ghana Aids Commission, Professor Sakyi Amoa has said that under no circumstance should HIV/AIDS status of a person be a pre-requisite to marriage.

He therefore, urged churches and other institutions that forcibly demanded information on the HIV/AIDS before they conducted marriages to desist from such unwarranted practice.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Prof, Amoa said prospective marriage persons should rather be counselled and encouraged to conduct the test on their own volition. "The National Policy critically frown on this arcane development and besides it's against fundamental human rights and must be condemned," he said.

Prof. Amoa indicated that although the situation was worrying, the best way forward was for individuals to be made to understand the risk involved in neglecting to ascertain their HIV/AIDS status. "All of us, one way or the other, have engaged in illicit sexual behaviours before and that it will be wise to come to a certain consciousness regarding our AIDS status," he added. He said when individuals are forced to undertake the test, they are unlikely to accept responsibility of the outcome and that poses psychological problems, which could rapidly jeopardize the health of the person.

Prof. Amoa said since HIV/ADS could be contracted through different means apart reckless sexual interactions, there was no need to use it as barrier to marriage or any other issues.

He said it was undoubtedly necessary to ensure safe marriage in this age and time but that should largely depend on individual's knowledge about the life-long contract they were signing as well as its repercussions.

Prof Amoa noted that with the current figures on the rate of spread of the pandemic, it was clear that its devastating effect on socio-economic development could not be over-emphasised He said, " an estimated 42 million people worldwide are today living with the epidemic with approximately one infection occurring every six seconds, while an infant is infected by the mother through breastfeeding every 90 seconds."

Prof. Amoa said in addition, " In Africa about 34 million or 12 per cent of children aged 15 are currently HIV/AIDS orphans and the figure is likely to soar."

As a result, the appropriate approach in the face of the grim facts is to provide the youth with adequate and relevant information to enable them take the right decision and act with circumspection. "Given the importance we attach to the adoption of appropriate behaviour pattern by the youth, our major concern now is what behaviour change tools need to be utilized to bring about change in the lifestyle of the youth," he added. Rev. Prof. Emmanuel k. Asante, President, Trinity Bible and Theological College also shared the opinion that HIV/AIDS status should not be compulsorily required before marriages were united. " As a clergy I will not make it mandatory, rather I will offer them the needed advice and leave them to decide on what in their view was the best way forward," he added.

Rev. Asante said it was absolutely wrong for any church to insist that any 'to be couples' submitted information on their HIV/AIDS situation.

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