Nana Yaa Nyamaa, queen mother of the Sunyani Traditional Area, at the weekend called on government to initiate a more comprehensive programme to help reduce stigmatization and discrimination of people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWA).
She suggested that under any such measure, the Ghana AIDS Commission and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection should be adequately resourced and strengthened to sensitize the people on the consequences of stigmatization, which was a cause of the spread of the disease.
Nana Nyamaa made the called at a dialogue meeting on stigma against women living with HIV and AIDS, at Abesim in the Sunyani Municipality.
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), under its project: ‘’Increasing access to the property and inheritance rights of women living with HIV/ AIDS’’, organised the meeting, which was attended by 15 traditional leaders and 16 women living with HIV.
It was aimed at mapping out strategies to help reduce stigmatisation and discrimination against PLWA.
Nana Nyamaa noted that stigmatization and discrimination against PLWA undermined public health effort to combat the epidemic, and negatively affected preventive behaviours such as condom use, HIV test-seeking and care seeking behaviour.
She said that though social support organizations for HIV and AIDS existed at the national, regional and district levels, stigmatization of PLWA continued, especially within local communities.
Nana Nyamaa regretted that HIV and AIDS stigmatization and discrimination was extended to families and friends and PLWA.
Miss Benedicta Laryea, Programme Officer of FIDA, who took participants through the Interstate Succession Law and issues on women living with HIV/AIDS, reminded the public that it was an offence to deprived children and women of properties of deceased fathers and husbands.
She condemned outmoded cultural practices such as widowhood rites and ritual servitude meted at women following the death of their husbands, and cautioned that perpetrators would be prosecuted.
Nana Kwame Korang, Chief of Awuah-Dumase, called for the empowerment of women to enable them to maximize their potentials and improve on their livelihoods.
He commended FIDA for providing legal counsel to women and asked the organisation to extend its services to the local communities.