I attended a seminar on the media and HIV reportage which was organized by the UNAIDS in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire from July 8th to July 11th 2013.
In this article, I want to share some of the highlights of the conference with regard to HIV/AIDS because I believe this information can go a long way to educate us all.
First, the technology in the advancement of the drugs for the treatment of HIV has gotten to the point where patients now need only one tablet a day, instead of the former cocktail of drugs.
Secondly, deaths related to HIV/AIDS have reduced the world over.
Africa is still the continent with high incidence of new infections with women and particularly younger women at high risk. Most societies still believe that an HIV positive man will get cured by having sex with a young unaffected virgin. This has accounted to the high infection among young women.
Mother to child transmission has lowered as a pregnant HIV positive woman on treatment cannot transfer the virus to her child, if she follows all instructions.
The media has been tasked to desist from using scary and near death images of persons living with AIDS in their news items as this will continuously affect the mindset of the public. Such images can be used to trace and praise the advancement in the treatment, for instance.
Persons living with HIV can have a normal healthy life once they follow their medications.
HIV/AIDS is no longer considered as a deadly disease. It is now considered as a chronic treatable disease.
The general situation of not talking about sex and related issues is still a major obstacle in the fight against new infections. On this, everybody is being advised to educate ourselves well enough and to be able to confidently educate others on sex and safe sex practices.
Condom use is still the only safer way to reduce the incidence of HIV transmission and this should be preached to those who can’t abstain.
Abstinence is still being preached as it is the only way to avoid HIV, sexually. For couples, faithfulness to each other will save both from heartache.
Religious beliefs have always caused hindrances to the fight. Some people believe the disease does not exist, some believe it is a form of spirit and so on. We all must come together and help in a way to educate ourselves and the people around us of this reality.
Overall, Ghana is doing well in the fight against the disease. However there are some lifestyle indicators which can blow us upside down if they are not checked. Generally, the Ghanaian sex workers have embraced condom use. However, the highly educated and high earning Ghanaians have over the past five years had the most new infections. There is a tendency for this to blow up if we do not keep talking and preaching about condom use and against promiscuous behaviors.
Stigma is one hurdle which we are yet to cross. We are all being encouraged to know that persons living with AIDS are just like us. The virus can only be transmitted through blood, semen and breast milk. Let us try to embrace such persons and be friendly towards them.
These are some pointers I would like to share.
Hope they can go a long way to inform us, should we decide to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS.