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11.08.2005 Health

Individual risk perception and HIV

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Atimpoku (ER), Aug 11, GNA - Although majority of Ghanaians are aware of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, they still indulge in sex mainly because of their low risk perception concerning the disease

Dr Irina Offei, Asuogyaman District Director of Health, said this at the opening of a day's training session for Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) Peer Educators on Wednesday.

Speaking on the theme, "Enhancing the potentials of the youth to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS," Dr Offei said during a recent screening of 584 patients and donors at the VRA Hospital, 125 tested positive. She said according to Ghana Demographic and Health Survey in 2003, about 98percent of women and 99 percent of men had heard of HIV/AIDS, indicating that awareness was nearly universal.

"About 86 percent of women and 90 percent men know that limiting sex to one uninfected partner is vital to the prevention of the disease." She said worldwide, 60 percent of HIV/AIDS positive youth are young women and an estimated 57 percent of the daily infections are among young women and girls.

"Ten million youth between the ages of 15 to 24 are living with HIV/AIDS, comprising over a quarter of the world wide HIV/AIDS population,'' she quoted UNAIDS.

Dr Offei urged all stakeholders in the fight against HIV/AIDS to concentrate their efforts at making the threat of HIV/AIDS more vivid to the youth.

Dr G.K. Siaw, a former District Chief Executive of Asuogyaman, said although the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the country is 3.1 percent, dropping from 3.6 percent, there was the need to work at lowering the rate to below one percent.

He said efforts to eradicate the disease had to be focused on the youth since their fate is directly going to affect the nation's development. The YWCA in collaboration with the Girl Guide Association of Ghana, the Scout Association of Ghana, the Red Cross Association of Ghana and the Young Men's Christian Association of Ghana organized the Workshop.