The Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA) HIV focal Person, Mr Isaac Aidoo, has called on stakeholders, especially Christians and Moslems, to encourage young people to abstain from unprotected sexual activities and married couples to be faithful to one another.
He said, “to us and to those around us, each of us has a duty, our personal health is something that each of us is accountable for, every one of us should get tested for HIV, and if the result is negative, ensure that you maintain your status for the rest of your life.
“Alternatively, if you are diagnosed with HIV, it is not the end of your life. You will be initiated onto anti-retroviral therapy right away and stick with it”.
Mr Aidoo said this in a statement to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Ghana Aids Commission and to observe World Aids Day, which was on the Global theme: “Equalize”.
The day, he noted, coincided with the commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Ghana AIDS Commission of which Ghana has adopted the National theme: “Twenty Years of Multi-Sectoral Response to HIV & AIDS in Ghana: Accelerating progress to end AIDS”, provides stakeholders the opportunity to come together in response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic and evaluate management efforts.
According to him, it also offered the chance to remember those who have passed away from AIDS-related causes and to show support for those who are living with and affected by HIV.
Mr Aidoo said the global theme of “Equalize”, called for action to address the numerous inequalities that deny at-risk and vulnerable populations access to essential HIV services and severely undermine the progress toward ending AIDS by 2030.
He said the subject offered a solid framework for all participants in the HIV and AIDS response to critically assess the progress made through the combined efforts to carry out the country’s “Elimination Agenda.”
The HIV Focal Person explained that over the last five years, there had been a fluctuating HIV prevalence in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis with an HIV prevalence of 1.9 per cent, which according to him was higher than the regional prevalence of 1.7 per cent and the national average of 1.68 per cent.
He announced that there were more than 1,200 new HIV infections as projected in 2020 and an estimated 25,620 persons living with the virus in the region, thereby making the Western Region one of Ghana’s top five Regions for new HIV infections.
He gave a special recognition to the community of people living with or impacted by HIV and AIDS for their vital contributions to reduce the rate of new infections and commended HIV-positive people known as the ‘Model of Hope’ who act as inspirations for others by offering newly diagnosed patients counseling on their psychosocial needs and how to stick with their anti-retroviral therapy.
“Indeed, your committed service is still essential for the early start and continuation of anti-retroviral therapy for the newly diagnosed patients who might otherwise have been lost to follow-up”, he added.
“It is important to note that, HIV is primarily transmitted from mother to child and through unprotected sex with an infected person, if you are currently in default, it is time to start your anti-retroviral therapy again. None of these things can be done on your behalf by anyone. You are accountable for it on your own”.
He called on the media to dedicate at least five minutes of their airtime each day to educate and preach the ABC messages (A=Abstinence, B=Be faithful and C=Use condom if you are not married and cannot abstain).
He further asked the media to provide the platform for resource persons from the health sector, who are always available to discuss, update and educate the public on HIV & AIDS issues in the Metropolis, adding “HIV is real and is not a respecter of any person. We should all work together to eliminate HIV in the Metropolis”.