Stigmatisation hampering fight against HIV – AIDS Commissions

Mr Dramani Yakubu, the Western Regional Technical Coordinator of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), says stigmatisation and discrimination of persons living with HIV are a major challenge to the country’s objective of ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

He said stigma prevented people with the virus from voluntarily accessing HIV care, adherence support and other essential services, thus hampering progress in the national response against those infections.

Mr Yakubu was speaking at a Western Regional stakeholders’ coordination forum, organised by the GAC, to discuss critical issues on continuity of care, adherence support and other services for persons living with HIV and key population.

The forum, held at Sekondi, was attended by members of the Regional Committee of GAC, representatives from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working around HIV/AIDS, and Ghana Health Service among other stakeholders.

It provided a platform for participants to understand the diverse efforts of partners and le
arn and share experiences in the implementation of programmes towards the fight against HIV infections.

‘The badmouthing and pointing fingers at persons who are living with HIV is not the best, because if it happens like that, such persons go into hiding without accessing the care they need,’ Mr Yakubu said.

‘… And when that also happens it means they can infect other people, which will hold back the progress we are making to achieve the national target of ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.’

The Technical Coordinator, therefore, called on the citizenry to unite and support efforts to end stigma and enhance the progress in curbing the infection.

Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, the Western Regional Minister, in a speech read on his behalf, said despite the challenges, the region had made significant strides in the response against HIV/AIDS over the past years.

‘Our collective efforts have resulted in notable achievements such as expanding access to HIV services, and the number of facilities
offering HIV treatment services has increased from 26 to 76, bringing essential care closer to many in our communities,’ he said.

However, he expressed worry over the increase in new infections in the region from 1,101 in 2022 to 1,235 in 2023, saying: ‘This data prompts us to question why our efforts are not yielding greater impact.’

Mr Darko-Mensah, also the Chairman of the Western Regional Committee of the Ghana AIDS Commission, called for effective collaboration between stakeholders to ensure a successful implementation of sustainable programmes towards achieving the desired outcomes.

The CSOs at the forum took turns to update participants on the projects and activities being undertaken towards the response against HIV/AIDS in the region.

Source: Ghana News Agency