GUSS grillade with talk on AIDS

The rains all morning did not bode well for a barbecue in the late afternoon. Not many people were expected especially as Friendship Association was also having its barbecue on the same day at the other end of town. The venue was also not the usual one. But the Ghana grill went well. People strolled in gradually and by the peak, there were at least 50 people chewing roasted lamb, eating bread, rice and drinking soft drinks. And they talked and mingled a lot with each other. Akallaby turned out to be the perfect place for such an event and we shall surely use it again next year. Say and Hilla did the grill – and the meat came out well. The children played football or occupied themselves at the playground nearby.

Those who came early heard Professor Sven-Britton talk about AIDS in Africa. He said the situation in Ghana was stable with a 3% rate of infection which translates to between 200 – 250 thousand infections in the country. This is better than nearby Ivory Coast with an infection rate as high as 7%. He said the positive news from Ghana is the increased awareness of the disease and pointed out the fact that even inmates at the Ankaful Mental Hospital were being made aware of the disease. The depressing side was the increase in child mortality as a result of the virus in Ghana. He said that many Ghanaians are still unwilling to have themselves tested since they are afraid of knowing that they carry the virus. In the rest of the continent, South Africa was getting worse but West Africa was stable. Sweden currently has a total of 5000 cases but the country has the problem people being tested too lately. This, he said, we should be ashamed of.

Professor Sven-Britton said there have been improvements in AIDS medicine of late. Formerly, people used to take about 36 tablets each day. Today, two tablets daily are enough in most cases. He explained that the problem today is not so much the lack of funds for drugs but logistical problems of distribution especially in the third world. He said despite the improvements in medicine, there is still no medicine against the disease and no vaccine in sight. He reminded listeners of the important fact that one can actually protect oneself against getting the virus. He said diseases like the common cold which is in the air and malaria may be difficult to guard against. But not AIDS. The burden was, therefore, on us to make sure that we do not contract the virus in the first place.

Professor Sven-Britton, married to Ghanaian Professor Hannah Akuffo and both of whom have done extensive research work on AIDS in Africa, used the occasion to inform us that it was his 70th birthday and the family was making a small do for him at home and he had to leave us. The gathering took the opportunity to wish him a happy birthday and sang the birthday songs in Swedish and English in his honour.

The gathering dispersed around 7.00 to catch the last bit of the match between Spain and Sweden which had started earlier on. We all now know how that match ended...

Click here for pictures from the day

Report: Kofi Sapathy

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