29.04.2005 Regional News

Behavioural change vital to spread of AIDS

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Koforidua, April 29, GNA - The Eastern Regional Co-ordinator of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), Dr Sampson Ofori, has stressed the need for behavioural change among adults to help halt the rate of the HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country. He observed that all the knowledge people needed to inform them on their sexual lives had been made known, "yet the infection rate is still soaring due to people's attitudes towards the disease, which has not changed." Dr Ofori was making a presentation on AIDS at a roundtable discussion organized by the Assemblies of God Church in the Eastern Region at Koforidua, on Friday. He expressed regret that some people still disregarded the reality of sexual transmission of the disease and urged the youth, who he described as "highly infected" to abstain from pre-marital sex or use condom, saying "if you are unmarried you have to abstain as the Bible tells us, but if you wish to sin by fornicating then sin wisely by using a condom". He observed that last year alone, statistics proved that there were 4.9 million new infection cases and claimed that apart from sexual transmission, the other modes of transmission were rare, "that shows that people are being adamant". Dr. Ofori explained that, from the first day of infection through three months, testing could not prove that one had the virus, saying "blood transfusion is not all that safe as far as the HIV transmission is concerned, due to the difficulty in knowing one's status after some period of infection." The Eastern Regional Focal person on AIDS, Ms Golda Asante, expressed concern about the rate of infection in the region, warning that if it was unchecked, the situation could reverse the "important achievements" won in all sectors of the socio-economic development in the country. She said, looking at the infection rate among children, pragmatic measures must be adopted to improve care and support for children to reduce the stigma and discrimination alongside measures to keep others from being infected. Ms Asante commended the Church for it's active involvement in the campaign against the disease and entreated other churches, who had not initiated similar programmes to emulate the example. The Eastern Regional Head of the Assemblies of God Church, Rev. Alex Ofori Amankwah, explained that the purpose of the forum was to find solutions for the increasing infections among the youth and to form abstinence clubs. He said there was the need to break the cultural norm of silence on sexuality in the churches to talk about HIV/AIDS openly to the young ones.

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