Only 20 percent of people living with Aids in Ghana go for retroviral drugs
Dr. Sylvia J. Anie, Director of Policy and Planning, Ghana Aids Commission (GAC), said only about 20 per cent of People Living With HIV?AIDS (PLWHAs) took anti-retroviral drugs in Ghana. She said the remaining 80 per cent of PLWHAs declined to go for the drug because of stigmatization and discrimination. Dr. Anie was speaking at a workshop on HIV/AIDS reporting, organized by the League of HIV/AIDS Reporters, Ghana, in collaboration with the GAC, for journalists in the Volta Region, in Ho. The event focused on how reporting on HIV/AIDS could help, reduce stigmatization and discrimination against PLWHAs.
Dr. Anie said seven per cent of country's population knew their HIV/AIDS status and urged journalists to encourage the people to undertake voluntary counseling and testing of the disease to know their status. She said misinformation, stigmatisation and discrimination among others remained the major factors undermining the Commission's drive against stemming the prevalence of the disease in the country. Dr. Anie discounted claims by some herbalists that they had found a cure for HIV/AIDS, which according to her was possibility not likely " even for the next 20 years". She explained that there was no " agent" to completely kill the HIV and that the disease could only be managed and not cured adding "The virus is complex, it mutates, thus difficult to wipe out".
Dr. Anie said that only anti-retroviral drugs could control the virus and prolong the lives of PLWHAs and urged the media to educate such people to use the drug to enable them to live longer.
Mr Ato Amoaning-Annan, president of the League of HIV/AIDS Reporters, Ghana, advised journalists to use decent languages in reporting HIV/AIDS issues to help reduce the stigmatization and discrimination. He said news on HIV/AIDS cases should show compassion for such people instead of sensationalizing the news and stereotyping the PLWHAs. Mr Ato Amoaning-Annan said "Develop good attitudes towards HIV/AIDS reporting and respect the rights and privacy of PLWHAs".
Mr Gregory Amenuvegbe, Volta Regional HIV/AIDS Coordinator, who spoke on clinical management of HIV/AIDS said a total of 590 PLWHAs in the region were on clinical care from July to December 2007. Mr Bright Kornu, Regional Focal Person on HIV/AIDS, commended stakeholders in the Region especially non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations for helping to bringing HIV/AIDS prevalence in the Region from three per cent in 2006 to two per cent in 2007. He urged them to remain committed to their work to make the Region an HIV/AIDS free zone. Mr Kornu lamented the refusal of most district assemblies in the region to commit the mandatory one per cent of their Common Fund to the fight against HIV/AIDS. He said apart from North Dayi, Krachi-East and North Tongu districts all the remaining 15 assemblies failed to attach the needed attention to issues on HIV/AIDS.
GNA, Ho June 20