Accra, March 24, GNA – Dr Ben Kwansa of the Institute of African Studies of the University of Ghana, on Tuesday challenged leaders to test and declare their HIV status openly to encourage people to also know their HIV status and help reduce stigmatization of People Living with HIV/AIDS.
He said most leaders have not tested to know their status and if those who have tested have not disclosed their status, and called on Members of Parliament to also test and declare their status
Dr Kwansa threw the challenge at a public forum organized by the Economy of Ghana Network on the theme: Health, Care and Well Being in Ghana.
Speaking specifically on the topic HIV/AIDS: Between Normalcy and Abnormality, he gave the example of a former President of Botswana, Mr Festus Mogai, who tested and declared his HIV status publicly, noting that, if leaders did that, it would normalize the process of testing for HIV and reduce stigma.
He said most HIV infected persons desired to fit back into society, however they are confused as to what is normal and what is abnormal, explaining that, most patient s, who regain some strength and look normal after the ART were tempted to resume normal sex life.
Sharing his experience based on a research he did in two communities in the Ashanti region, he said “Sometimes, these people who usually do not disclose their status even to close relatives are pressured by society to get married and have children,” he said, citing an example where a lady in her mid-thirties with HIV was pressured by relatives to give birth.
Dr Kwansa said most of the time those with no direct HIV experience did not see the depth of the impact of stigma on individuals, households and communities, saying that, living safely in the midst of stigma presented a dilemma, since people living with HIV/AIDS did not live in isolation and tend to affect others within society.
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