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12.11.2005 Health

AWEP holds HIV/AIDS sensitisation seminar for youth

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Accra, Nov. 12, GNA - A survey on the up-date of the HIV/AIDS pandemic has revealed that, about 25.4 million people were living with the disease in the sub-Sahara Africa in year 2004.

The survey also indicated that, there were about 13.3 million women between the ages of 15 to 49 also living with the disease, while there were 3.1 million newly infected adults and children during the same period.

It further put adult and child deaths during the same period at 2.3 million, indicating that HIV infection was becoming endemic in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mrs. Elizabeth Mills-Robertson, Deputy Inspector General of Police (IGP), gave the statistics on Saturday at a sensitisation and counselling seminar on HIV/AIDS in Accra. The seminar, which was aimed at educating the youth and parents on the disease was organised by the Association of Women for the Preservation of the Environment (AWEP).

Mrs. Mills-Robertson said the devastating nature of HIV/AIDS had adversely affected economic gains, resulting in low economic growth of many developing countries.

She noted that though infection rate was high among all sexes, women were the most vulnerable. "In Ghana, out of the 350 thousand persons living with the disease, 60 per cent are women and this shows how serious the situation is, considering its implications," she said. She stated that it had been estimated that about 170,000 under the age of 17 would either be partially or wholly orphaned as a consequence of HIV/AIDS.

Mrs. Mills-Robertson urged women to take firm control of their sexual lives and ensure that their rights were not abused when it got to have intimate affairs with their partners. She advised women to avoid carefree lives, as such mistakes could be disastrous for their children during pregnancy or childbirth, adding that, approximately 85 per cent of Ghana's paediatric cases were attributed to mother to child transmission.

Col. Liticia Ohene Kwapong, of the Ghana AIDS Commission, advised the youth to be content with what they have, instead of desiring for worldly and expensive things they could not afford. "The root cause of prostitution is the desire to have things that one cannot afford by him or herself. This desire is leading many people into other social vices," she said.

She urged parents to have "listening ears" for their children and openly talk to them about their sexuality. Col. Kwapong said it was only through such intimacy with parents that children could openly share their problems, instead of going to their peers for solutions, which may be wrong. She also called on government and organisations working on HIV/AIDS to focus on attaining behavioural change, as it was through such change that a downward trend of infection rate could be attained.