The Heart to Heart Ambassadors in a pose with Ashanti GJA Chairman (2 nd left)
IT IS wrong and a human right infringement for any pastor or a religious organisation to prevent a would-be marriage couple from getting married based on their HIV status.
Churches have also been encouraged to get Persons Living with HIV (PLWHIVs) on their marriage counselling teams to share their experience with potential couples.
These concerns were expressed by the Heart to Heart Ambassadors who are campaigning against stigmatisation and discrimination against persons living with HIV during a Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) training workshop for Editors in the northern sector of the country at Ejisu over the weekend.
The media training was to assure accurate reportage and reduce sensationalism in matters affecting key populations and PLWHIV.
The Heart to Heart Campaign which is to put a human face to HIV to address stigmatisation and discrimination, and to use Ambassadors to tell their story while providing hope and motivating others to access HIV related services and improve attitudes.
The Ambassadors, who sounded passionate during their interaction with the media practitioners, said, ‘The trend is that would-be couples are made to undergo compulsory HIV testing and when any of them is tested positive, the pastors advise that the proposed marriage be cancelled.’
This, they indicated, was wrong and needed to be addressed since two partners, one HIV positive and the other negative, could happily stay together with the latter not being infected or their children having it.
They, therefore, advised that PLHIV couples should be on the churches’ marriage counselling teams to give the right advice to potential marriage couples.
The Ambassadors further appealed to the media not to give their platforms to uncertified herbalists who are claiming to have got the cure for the treatment of the HIV virus.
They said due to unguarded public pronouncements by some herbalists on the airwaves, most patients have abandoned the ARTs and resorted to herbal concoctions which end up worsening their conditions.
The Ambassadors also appealed to corporate organisations to channel some of their resources into supporting the national AIDS programme since most of the support groups are currently not functioning due to lack of funding, thereby affecting the regular supply of ARTs.
Officials of the GAC including Dr Fred Nana Poku, Technical Manager, Golda Asante, Eastern Regional Technical Coordinator, Dr Thomas Agyarko Poku, Ashanti Regional HIV Coordinator as well as the GJA President, Dr Roland Affail Monney, all advised media practitioners to provide accurate information about HIV devoid of sensationalism and discuss basic facts and modes of transmission for HIV to dispel local myths and fears about HIV transmission.
FROM Fred Tettey Alarti-Amoako, Ejisu
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