Koforidua, Feb 23, GNA – The Director General of Ghana AIDS Commission, Dr Angela El-Adas, has called for a strong advocacy to help reduce physical assault and extreme form of discrimination and stigmatization of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in their homes and religious places.
She said such conditions negated efforts at increasing disclosure of the status of PLHIV and their assessment of health care and support to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Dr El-Adas was speaking at the southern zone dissemination of stigma index study report at Koforidua for selected PLHIV from Eastern, Volta Greater Accra and Central regions.
The stigma index study report is the first study to be conducted in the country based on the experience of PLHIV unlike the previous researches which were based on the experiences of other people who were not necessarily living with HIV.
The report showed that PLHIV suffer high discrimination and highest level of physical assault in their homes by family members other than their spouses.
As such there is very low disclosure of status to close associates such as spouses, relatives and friends.
The report showed some high level of self-stigmatization among PLHIV.
Dr El-Adas said the findings of the research and other sources of information would be used to develop an anti-stigma strategy to guide advocacy and communication towards the elimination of stigma and discrimination in Ghana.
She said the concerted intervention of the Commission was to achieve a new global target of 90 percent of all PLHIV, that 90 percent of all people diagnosed as HIV positive will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression by 2020.
She called for empowerment of leaders of PLHIV to lead the advocacy against discrimination and stigmatization and to motivate PLHIV to break from their self-stigmatization to increase disclosure of status to spouses and family members.
Ms Mavis Ama Frimpong, the Deputy Eastern Regional Minister, urged the PLHIV to put in more efforts to support efforts at overcoming the challenges of discrimination in the country.
Dr Emmanuel Amoah, Eastern Regional HIV Coordinator of the Ghana Health Service, said now all the regions are sharing the resources available in the treatment and management of HIV and when they is shortage in one region, there could be some resources available in other regions which could be moved to areas where there were shortages.
He advised PLHIV to leave the issue of shortage of regents, test kits and others to the medical authorities to handle.
Ms Golda Asante, Head of the Eastern Regional Technical Support Unit(TSU) of the GAC, advised the leadership of the various associations of PLHIV to work closely with the TSUs in the regions to enable them to benefit from supporting packages available to them.
The participants appealed for the provision of early infant diagnostic machines to support early diagnosis of new born babies for their HIV status.
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