Kumasi, May 25, GNA- The maiden National Delegates Conference of People Living With AIDS (PLWHAS) opened in Kumasi on Wednesday. The three-day conference, which is on the theme: "The Voice of Positive Ghanaians in the National HIV/AIDS Response", was initiated with the sole aim of mobilising all HIV support groups to form a functional and sustainable national network that will coordinate the activities of PLWHAS.
It is being organised by the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) and the Academy for Educational Development (AED) Strengthening HIV/AIDS Response Partnership Project (SHARP) in collaboration with the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), UNAIDS and HIV Plus (HIV+) Associations in Ghana with sponsorship from the United States Agency for International Development.
One hundred PLWHA from the 10 regions are attending the conference which will also finalise and adopt the draft national PLWHA network constitution, elect national executives to provide leadership to the network secretariat, identify strategies for the development and implementation of PLWHA network response project and determine the modalities to set up a national PLWHA network secretariat. Barfuor Osei Hyiaman Brantuo V1, Manwerehene, who represented the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu 11, commended the participants for their bold and courageous efforts to help in the fight against the spread of the HIV pandemic.
He advised the members to serve as the foot soldiers in the fight against the virus and use the network as a pressure group to champion the course of PLWHAS in order to prolong their lives.
Mr Eben Anuwa-Amarh, Operations Manager of CRS, said the success of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support and mitigation programmes depended on the creation of an enabling environment that would facilitate behavioural change to reduce transmission and promote the quality of life of PLWHAS and their families.
Mr Lord Dartey, Social Mobilisation Advisor of UNAIDS, pledged the support of his organisation to offer technical assistance to make the network a success.
Mrs Mavis Asiedu-Asamoah Frimpong, HIV/AIDS Care and Sport Specialist at the CRS and AED SHARP project, said PLWHAS were key partners and powerful collaborators in the fight against the pandemic. Mrs Catherine Ababio, Executive Member of GAC, who chaired the function, said the Commission was collaborating with the Ministry of Health to develop a proposal to the Government to provide a universal access to anti-retroviral drugs to PLWHAS. She said PLWHAS and support networks had a stake in the fight against the spread of the virus and stigmatisation of people affected by the pandemic.