Accra, March 2, GNA - One hundred and sixty two People Living With AIDS (PLWAS) who were put on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) at the Fevers Unit of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital died by December 2005. Dr Mrs Gladys Ashitey, Deputy Minister of Health, announced this at the launch of the Ghana Pentecostal Council Abstinence Clubs in the Kpeshie Sub-Metro Education Area at the Church of Pentecost Auditorium at La in Accra on Thursday.
The pilot programme, which was under the auspices of the Ghana Pentecostal Council and the Ghana Aids Commission, involved 1,000 pupils, 50 Head Teachers, 50 Teachers and some of Traditional Rulers. Filing statistics on the state of HIV/AIDS with reference from the National AIDS/STI Control Programme of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, the Deputy Minister said as at December 2006; more than 200,000 People Living With HIV/Aids (PLWAS) had been recorded as those who needed ART. She said 4,060 were put on treatment but 162 died, while 51 had stopped following up for their drugs and 41 could not be traced, leaving 3,800 who are benefiting from the ART.
Dr Ashitey said the cost of providing drugs for PLWAS was a huge burden on the Government as it consumed money which would have been invested in other sectors of the economy.
She emphasized that ART drugs only helped to manage opportunistic infections to prolong the lives of PLWAS but did not cure them of the disease and advised participants "to make up their minds to abstain from pre-marital sex or change their lifestyles to conform to acceptable norms".
The Deputy Minister urged all school children to join the Abstinence Club "for that is the surest way to avoid contracting the disease".
Mr Kofi Lucas, President of Anointed Fellowship Ambassadors and Chairman of Association of Health nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), said the Club would seek to promote morality among school children to avoid teenage pregnancy and other social vices which hindered the realisation of the potentials of children.
He said the Club would also stand against armed robbery and terrorism and advised stakeholders to support it to achieve its objectives.
Mr Lucas said it would be very pragmatic for District Assemblies and NGOs working in support of AIDS awareness to channel some of their resources towards poverty alleviation and scholarships for girls since many of them were trapped into casual sex for financial reward. Apostle Ekow Wood, General Secretary of the Ghana Pentecostal Council, said though faithfulness to ones partner and the use of condom were other publicised preventive measures, the only one with a hundred per cent certainty was abstinence.
He said children were the most treasured property of God and it was important to guide them away from dangers, adding that it was in the light of this, that the formation of the GPC Abstinence Clubs became imperative.
Mrs Elizabeth Essilfi Bondzie, a Deputy Director of the Ghana Health Service, said AIDS was a communicable disease driven by the behaviour of people, with eighty per cent of known cases being the result of sexual escapades.
She said young people, were the most vulnerable and such trends affected the productive age group, a factor which spilt over and affected the economic development of the nation negatively. The Director lauded the founders of the Club and advised the pupils to avoid contracting the disease.