General News of Thursday, 13 December 2018
The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has launched an anti-stigma campaign to mark its 15th anniversary.
The celebration also marked 10 years of PEPFAR in Ghana.
This year’s celebration, themed “Stigma and discrimination kills faster than HIV” exposed the unfair treatment meted out to persons living with HIV/AIDS by some health professionals. It sought to sensitize caregivers on the implications of their actions on such persons living with HIV and AIDS.
The anti-stigma campaign which was launched at the Ridge hospital in Accra on Thursday took caregivers, especially nurses in the various health facilities in the country as well as members of the media on the best possible way to relate with members of the society living with HIV.
Addressing an audience at the Ridge hospital on the subject, Media Specialist for PEPFAR, Dzid Enyonam Kwame bemoaned the reducing rate of HIV/AIDS tests in the country, attributing the decline to stigmatization.
She said fewer people now voluntarily opt for HIV tests for fear of being victimized or treated as outcasts in situations where they test positive to the virus.
She said the situation is making it difficult for PEPFAR to achieve its goals. She added that persons who were treated badly at healthcare facilities or stigmatized by the society either stopped going for treatment or relocated.
“The anti-stigma and discrimination campaign is all about showing love to persons living with HIV and letting our brothers and sisters understand that stigma is more dangerous. If you stigmatize and discriminate against people who live with the disease, they will not be willing to disclose their status. The rippling effect is that they cannot be put on treatment. Subsequently they will keep infecting others and Ghana as a nation cannot achieve the FastTrack UNAIDS goal of 90-90-90 within the stipulated time frame. If we discriminate against PLHIV’s we stand a greater risk and will not be able to achieve an AIDS Free generation,” she said.
Several ambassadors who recounted their experiences reiterated the need for caregivers to desist from making persons living with HIV who sought treatment at their facilities uncomfortable.
One of such, who has been living with the virus for 18 years , Reverend John Azumah stated that some hospitals they visited had separate beds for those with the virus while others went to the extent of disclosing another person’s status though that is unethical of a nurse.
Reverend Azumah urged all persons with HIV/AIDS to take their treatment seriously because “there is life after HIV.”
A presentation was made to Accra Ridge hospital directorate for their participation in the 15th anti-stigma and discrimination campaign.
Media Specialist for PEPFAR, Dzid Kwame, urged everyone to be an ambassador to champion the course of anti-stigmatization against persons living with HIV.
PEPFAR was created 15 years ago when HIV diagnosis was still a death sentence in many countries and entire families and communities were falling ill. Faced with this death and devastation, the US government responded resoundingly.
The late President George W Bush sent ripples of compassion and hope around the world when he launched PEPFAR in his State of the Union Address on January 28, 2003. On May 27, the US Congress acted swiftly by passing bipartisan legislation that authorized PEPFAR.
Over the years, PEPFAR has not only saved and improved millions of lives but has transformed the global response on HIV/AIDS.
PEPFAR in Ghana partners with the Ghana AIDS commission, the National AIDS Control Program and John Snow Incorporated assiduously in the National response to HIV/AIDS.