HIV/AIDS Ambassadors

According to JCI Ghana Projects Director, Muhammed Alhassan Yakubu, “the project among others seeks to reduce further spread of HIV infections in the Kumasi Metropolis and its immediate communities, and to effectively eliminate discrimination and stigmatization of PLHIV.

He intimated further that, as of 2014, an estimated 224,488 Persons made up of 189,931 adults and 34,557 Children (15%) were reported to be living with HIV in Ghana. “The National HIV Prevalence was 1.3 percent in 2014 while the Ashanti Region of Ghana recorded 3.2%. The 2014 stigma index study report based on the experience of PLHIV showed that PLHIV suffer high discrimination and highest level of physical assault in their homes by family members. As such there is very low disclosure of status to close associates such as spouses, relatives and friends.”

Mr. Yakubu added that according to the same Stigma Index Report, there is also a high level of self-stigmatization among PLHIV and that the peak age bracket of recorded cases of HIV is 35-39. This raises concerns because the people in this age bracket constitute the most reproductive as well as the most economically active population. The prevalence rate for Kumasi is said to be around 3%. There may be communities with higher rates when you consider the rate of development of settlements and other predisposing factors.

In equipping the ambassadors with information and technical support that will boost their capacity to effectively sensitize the public about the need to stop discrimination and stigmatization of persons living with HIV/AIDS, the Technical Coordinator of the Ghana AIDS Commission Technical Support Unit in the Ashanti Region, Madam Olivia Graham urge them to disabuse their minds about the fact that it is only promiscuous people who are infected with HIV. “Stigma refers to the beliefs and attitudes that deeply discredit a person or group because of an association with HIV. This leads to discrimination. Such actions or inactions harm and deny stigmatized persons access to services or entitlements”. She said. She averred that HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination violates the fundamental human rights of PLHIV and underminethe drive towards deal with HIV and AIDS.

The JCI Ghana HIV/AIDS Anti-Stigmatization Campaign Project is in partnership with the U.S’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The project is implemented in the Kumasi Metropolis, specifically, the Subin Sub-Metro. The Project is designed to use interactive public campaigns and participatory theatre as anti-stigma strategies to guide advocacy and communication towards prevention, elimination of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in Ghana.

The Anti-Stigma Ambassadors who include youth between the ages 18 to 30 years and some PLHIV pledged their commitment to extensively preach the message of anti-stigmatization to change the behavioral pattern of people in society.

Source: Abdul Rashid Saani

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