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26.10.2005 Regional News

Stigmatisation of AIDS patients high in Cape Coast

Stigmatisation of AIDS patients high in Cape Coast
LISTEN OCT 26, 2005

Cape Coast, Oct 26, GNA - The Country Director of Hope for African Children Initiative (HACI) Ghana, an NGO, Mrs Yaa Peprah Agyeman Amekudzi, on Tuesday expressed concern about the stigmatisation and discrimination against people living with AIDS.

She said that the practice was still high in the Cape Coast municipality, in spite of intensive education in the area. The HACI Director stated that reports reaching her outfit indicated that some people, went to the extent of spitting, whenever they saw someone known to be living with the disease and described the treatment as "disheartening".

Mrs Amekudzi expressed these concerns at the launching of a project to promote care and support for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) at Cape Coast.

The project initiated by the Youth Aid Foundation for Winners (YAFOW), an NGO based in Cape Coast, would train volunteers and advocates to help intensify education, provide care and nutrition and protect the rights of OVCs and PLWHAs in three communities, Apewosika, Kakumdo and Brofoyedur, all in the municipality.

She said HACI, was particularly worried because in spite of the crusade against the disease, particularly the need for behavioural change, the attitudes of people especially with regard to sexual behaviour had not changed.

Mrs Amekudzi stated that the community partnership aspect of the project would enhance the fight against the disease and expressed the hope that the involvement of victims and traditional authorities in awareness creation programmes would lead to the reduction of discrimination against victims of the disease. She also expressed the hope that the project by YAFOW would help in improving the health status and life of PLWHAs and OVC. The Country Director urged opinion, community and church leaders and all stakeholders to take active part in the programme to ensure its success.

Mrs Amekudzi said HACI, which began operating in the country last year, had so far provided more than eight billion cedis for 10 groups implementing HIV/AIDS programmes, focusing on support children victims. The YAFOW Coordinator, Mr Christian Bansah, said Ghana Health Service statistics indicated that the number of children living with the disease was high and mentioned inadequate medical care and poor nutrition as some of the problems facing them.