Accra, November 4, 2014 – Residents of Ashaiman, a suburb of Tema, and its environs, seized the opportunity of the launch of World AIDS day in their community to check their HIV/AIDS status and receive counseling and free IEC/BCC materials and information.
The launch of the month-long advocacy and awareness campaign on HIV/AIDS toards World AIDS day on December 1, was under the national theme, “Ghana towards an HIV free generation through PMTCT, safe sex and stigma reduction”. The campaign will include community outreach in churches and mosques, a walk, and media campaign to better engage the general populace on HIV and AIDS issues with the goal of promoting and encouraging the utilization of HIV services, especially testing and counseling, condom use, treatment services and the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. It was attended by representatives from the Ghana Health Service, the Council of State, United Nations system, NAP+ Ghana and elders from the Ashaiman Township and the clergy.
The Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, Dr. Angela El-Adas, cited that infection rates in Ghana have been reduced by more than 50 per cent in recent years due to a reduction in stigmatization, more education on preventive measures and the patronage of Anti Retroviral drugs. She however stressed that the target is to attain zero new infection rates and enjoined stake holders to support the Commission’s efforts to make it happen. She advised young people to practice safe sex and protect themselves from HIV and AIDS adding that AIDS is real.
The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, noted that Ghana’s target to reduce mother-to-child-transmission of HIV by over 95% by the end of 2015 can be achieved if “…the needed services are available, the required human resource capacity is built and the logistics are available in a sustained manner”. He said Ghana’s HIV response such as the scrapping of the GHC5.00 service charge paid by people living with HIV for treatment and the provision of 20 million Ghana Cedis towards the production of quality medicines has come a long way to ensuring an HIV free society. He however, called on CSOs, the private sector, religious leaders and the general public to continue to play their role to spread the needed information to curb the spread of the disease.
Ms Jane Okrah of UNAIDS said the UN will continue to support the Government of Ghana in its quest to meet both national and global commitments to ensure that we end AIDS by 2030. She also called on the government to scale up treatment coverage for all PLHIV to access treatment, reach out to the more vulnerable populations with targeted HIV prevention and care services and ensure uninterrupted supply of essential commodities.