Home > Health News > Prevention and personal choices are key to the fight against HIV – Veep

Prevention and personal choices are key to the fight against HIV – Veep

hivaidsAccra, Nov. 2, GNA – Vice President John Dramani Mahama on Monday said most experts identify prevention and personal choices as the ultimate keys to defeat the deadly HIV and AIDS.

Speaking at the launch of this year’s World AIDS Day in Accra, Vice President Mahama noted that HIV and AIDS were still a threat with women being the most affected and accounting for about 60 per cent of the total reported cases.

He said though much effort had been spent to fight against the disease, studies showed that there were more to be done to ensure basic human rights to mankind.

The Day is celebrated annually on December 1, and this year’s celebration is under the theme: “Universal Access and Human Rights”.

It will address the critical need to protect human rights and attain access to HIV prevention, treatment care and support.

The celebration will also call to action especially those in authority to help revise laws, activities and cultural practices that discriminated against Persons Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWAS) and the marginalised.

“We can only reverse this by empowering women to take their own decision when negotiating for sex with their partners and spouses,” Mr Mahama added.

Mr. Mahama said it was time to ensure that every Ghanaian felt responsible for shaping the national response and contributing to the achievement of the goals and targets set since “we continue to face increasing numbers of new infections, a growing death toll and massive social and economic costs in dealing with the epidemic”.

He pledged government’s continuous support by providing the necessary leadership and co-ordination for national response and adopt a more holistic strategy through the Ghana AIDS Commission.

Government, Mr. Mahama said, would continue to dialogue with development partners to continue to commit adequate resources to the national response and commended religious bodies, traditional leaders and civil society for their active participation in the national response.

Dr. Angela El-Adas, Acting Director-General of Ghana AIDS Commission, said despite all the wide range of interventions, a tangible gap still remained to be addressed.

She called on Ghanaians including the Judiciary and the law enforcement agencies to support in providing a comprehensive and intensified response to the fight against the disease.

Dr. Nii Akwei Addo, National AIDS Control Programme Manager, said government was committed in bringing treatment to the door steps of Ghanaians by 2010 to meet the universal access for all.

He said the gateway to achieve this was counselling, testing and encouraging couple testing among Ghanaians to enable them know their status since that would also help in planning their lives ahead.

Mr. Daouda Toure, UN Resident Coordinator for UN Systems, said other development partners were working collectively to provide support for the provision of available, accessible and affordable HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services as part of efforts in scaling up Universal Access in Ghana.

“We are less than 15 months away from achieving the targets set for universal access to quality and comprehensive HIV services”, he said and noted that “achieving the targets set is critical to the attainment of the MDGs in 2015 and we must continue to fight and defeat HIV and AIDS”.

He said approximately 250,000 men, women and children living with HIV in Ghana, out of which 69,000 required Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) and by September 2009, approximately 30,000 of them were receiving ART.

Mr. Toure pledged the support of UN agencies and development partners with technical and financial support in scaling-up towards universal access by 2010 and the attainment by 2015 in Ghana with special emphasis on addressing human rights issues.

Nana Oye Lithur, Country Representative of Commonwealth Human Right Initiative, said there had been several cases of discrimination against Persons Living with HIV (PLWAS) in the security service with affected person excluded from peacekeeping operations despite the clear country laws on non discrimination as stipulated in the constitution.

She said another worrying phenomenon was how the prisons were addressing vulnerability to HIV due to homosexual activity and lack of supply of shaving blades to prisoners and persons on remand

Nana Lithur expressed concern about the many girls raped in Ghana and how to protect their right from abuse and wilful transmission of HIV and AIDS.

She said 14 countries in Central and West Africa had passed specific laws on HIV and AIDS to ensure the full enjoyment of all the human right and fundamental freedom of PLWAs and other venerable groups and asked whether Ghana would consider such laws and used existing laws to protect the rights to ensure universal access.

Naa Professor J. S. Nabila, President of National House of Chiefs, reiterated the need for all and sundry to participate in the counselling and testing and the need to ensure the rights of all were exercised.

Source: Modernghana

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