Persons With HIV Cry Over Stigmatisation

HIV/AIDS ambassadors talking to health workers

Persons living with HIV/AIDS have advised against discrimination, which, according to them, is their greatest fear and fastest route to their grave.

Speaking to DAILY GUIDE on condition of anonymity, they revealed that but for the timely assistance from some “God-given friends and angels on Earth”, they would have coiled from the public and probably died from self-stigma and depression.

They have, therefore, asked Ghanaians to desist from stigmatising, discriminating and rejecting persons living with HIV because “we are humans and our lives matter.”

One of them, Aku (not real name), accused health workers of being the major culprit as some disclose their status to others without their concern.

These sentiments were corroborated by Heart-To-Heart ambassadors— persons living with HIV who have come out to use their lives and stories to educate the public and champion the interventions to reduce HIV infections in the country.

At the Ho Municipal Hospital, the Heart-To-Heart ambassadors appealed to health workers and other key persons in the society to be mindful of how they treat persons living with HIV.

They pointed out that health workers are at the heart of the attainment of the 90-90-90 HIV AIDS target in Ghana and world. The 90-90-90 HIV/ AIDS strategy says by 2020, 90 percent of persons living with HIV should have been tested and diagnosed. Then 90 percent of those diagnosed should have been put on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment and90 percent of those on ARV treatment should have experienced viral suppression.

The forum, which was held by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), formed part of activities to celebrate PEPFAR’s 15 years support for HIV/AIDS eradication globally and 10 years in Ghana.

It also complements the many activities organised by the GAC to commemorate this year’s World AIDS Day celebration in Ho, the Volta regional capital on Saturday, December 1, 2018. It was held under the theme: ‘Know Your Status; Test, Treat To Suppress & Stop New Infections’.

One of the Heart-To-Heart ambassadors, Rev. John Azumah, recounted how health workers disclosed his status to people when they diagnosed him. This was followed by his senior pastor who made the disclosure before the congregation, which sparked public discrimination in his neighbourhood.

He said actions and inactions of health facilities had led to a lot of discrimination against persons living with HIV (PLHIV), some of which include special beds reserved for PLHIV, covertly and openly warning other colleagues of PLHIV in their wards, markings on their folder, among others.

Rev. Azumah called for intensive HIV/AIDS training for health workers, particularly at the facilities and training schools to reduce discrimination.

From Fred Duodu, Ho