PEPFAR collaborates with Asutifi North Assembly in HIV/AIDS education
Residents of Asutifi North in the Ahafo Region have been urged to avoid lifestyles that could lead to the infection of HIV/AIDS.
The area has a high HIV/AIDS prevalence rate. According to the District HIV Coordinator, Juliet Yeboah, 389 people with HIV/AIDS were recorded by 2022.
The figure comprises 116 males and 274 females, including 30 pregnant women. 26 people are 14 years and below, 20 people are between 15 to 39 years, and 162 people are 40 years and above.
As part of interventions, the US President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) collaborated with the Asutifi North District Assembly on an educational outreach program to help fight the situation.
The event, held at the District capital, Kenyasi, and attended by students, Chiefs, clergy, Ghana Education and Health Services officials, the general public, and other stakeholders, saw officials provide education to the people, drama on infection and prevention, and free testing, among others.
The event also saw the inauguration of HIV/AIDS clubs in schools in the district and a football gala to boost the educational drive.
Dzid Kwame, PEPFAR Media Specialist at the US Embassy, appealed to all stakeholders not to relent in sensitizing the people on the need to live a safe life.
She reiterated that HIV/AIDS is still around with no cure, but said it is no longer a death sentence because of the Anti-Retroviral drugs which help people to live better and healthier lives.
”They shouldn’t live recklessly. They should protect themselves. They should use condoms if they can’t abstain or be faithful. They should go for testing and be put on treatment if they get infected”, she stressed.
She expects the implementing partners and community leaders to step up the campaign on “Undetectable equals Untransmittable (U=U)”, which means individuals who are virally suppressed cannot pass HIV to their partners.
Ms. Kwame believes such a sustained campaign would help attain epidemic control by the year 2030 as set by USAID.
The Press Attaché for US PEPFAR, Kevin Brosnahan, expressed worry about the impact of stigmatization and how it is harming the communities.
“Stigmatization is hurting Ghanaians because people are not getting treated,” he said, adding that “there is no reason for stigma, the most important thing is information, get tested and get treated”.
He said it is important for people to have protected sex and not be responsible for spreading HIV/AIDS to the community.
The District Chief Executive for Asutifi North, Anthony Mensah, also expressed worry about the high prevalence rate in the district with one in fifteen people said to have been infected, hence the need for people to appreciate the situation and know how to deal with it.
“The fear of Covid-19 seems to have taken people’s minds off the dangers posed by HIV/AIDS, leading to a low test rate in the district,” he said.
He appealed to opinion and religious leaders to constantly add HIV/AIDS education to their sermons, and further implored the people to eschew stigmatization and discrimination, which he said scares people from voluntary testing.
The Saamanhene of Kenyasi No1, Nana Anim Dankwa, commended PEPFAR for the education. He, however, urged the District Assembly to use the information department van to enhance education in remote communities.
Source: Ghana News