21.04.2005 General News

Over 50-year-olds have non-regular sex partners -Survey

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Accra, April 21, GNA - A survey conducted among 300 workers in the country has shown that people aged 50 years and above have the highest rate of having sex with non-regular partners.

The survey covered a sample of workers from six organisations selected from four sectors of the economy. These are the mining, agro-processing, informal and the public sectors.

Though the mining sector reported the highest incidence of sex with non-regular partners, the sector also reported the highest condom use. On the whole, the baseline survey indicated that the older age groups tended to engage in high-risk behaviour, contrary to expectations.

The International Labour Organisation's HIV/AIDS Workplace Project in Ghana funded by the United States Department of Labour, carried out the survey.

The findings were contained in a 2005 Report made available to the Ghana News Agency.

Incidentally, a national survey captured in the 2003 Sentinel Survey, carried out by the National AIDS Control Programme, also had the older age group of 45 years to 49 years having the highest HIV/AIDS mean prevalence rates giving weight to the ILO findings.

When asked by the GNA the reason for the apparent high-risk behaviour among the older folks, Mrs Akua Ofori-Asumadu, National Project Coordinator of the ILO HIV/AIDS Workplace Project, said in scientific research, it was difficult to assign a causal relation to such a finding.

She said it was possible that some of these older folks, especially the men, had money to spend and could pick and choose the sort of lifestyles they desired.

One interesting finding from the baseline study also showed a lack of HIV/AIDS services in almost all the sectors. Almost all the 300 workers reached were not aware of policies and services at the workplaces.

The findings, however, indicated that education was the most popular service whereas information on voluntary counselling and HIV/AIDS testing was the least available.

The survey also revealed a lack of supportive or acceptable attitude towards people living with HIV/AIDS across all the sectors. Mrs Ofori-Asumadu said the ILO HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Project had been designed to deal with some of these problems in a sustainable manner.

The innovation in the project is that workplaces are assisted to design policies and programmes tailored to suit their peculiar circumstances and to mainstream it at a negligible cost into their day-to-day activities.

The goal of the project is to contribute to the prevention of the HIV/AIDS in the World of Work and forms an integral component of an international project funded by the US Department of Labour. Some 13 organisations in Ghana are taking part in the programme being run in 26 countries including Barbados, Russia, Swaziland and Nepal.

The organisations currently participating in the project in Ghana are Goldfields Ghana Limited; Ghana National Association of Garages; Cocoa Processing Company; Newmont Mining Company Limited; Volta River Estate; Office of the Head of Civil Service and Ministry of Manpower Development, Youth and Employment.

The rest are Ministry of Agriculture; Africa Explosives Limited; Abosso Goldfields Limited; Resigha Ghana Limited; Darko Farms Limited and A. Kassardjian Limited.

These organisations are in the process of establishing the second phase of the project, which involves developing an HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy.

The ILO HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Project has printed various posters involving behaviour communication change strategies to support these organisations in the HIV/AIDS Prevention programmes. 21 April 05

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