PEPFAR Campaign on "U equals U" held in Aboadze

Aboadze(WR), July 18, GNA - The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) under the auspices of US Embassy has organized a HIV Anti-Stigma Campaign to create awareness about the pandemic in the Aboadze Community in the Shama District of the Western Region.

The programme was under the theme ’’Reaching Epidemic Control by 2030’,’ which was heralded by a drama display by Aboadze Islamic ‘’B’’ Basic School to sensitize the general public to abstain from subjecting persons living with HIV and AIDS into ridicule.

The programme was organised in collaboration with "Twin City Energy" operating under the trade name Amandi Energy Limited.

Mr. Joshva Ravi Kumar, the Facility Manager of Twin City Energy said, his company has consolidated the partnership with the US Embassy to implement an HIV Anti- Stigma programme in Aboadze to help save the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS around the world.

He said PEPFAR remains the world’s greatest investor in the Global Fund with the aim at touching lives and achieving epidemic control by 2030, adding that, the information, experience and interactions with the HIV Ambassadors in attendance would positively impact the participants and leave memorable legacies along.

He said through the campaign, people would have reasons to desist from stigmatising persons who may test positive for HIV and share with them attitudes that make stigma and discrimination criminal.

He encouraged the leaders and members of the community, particularly the youth to be actively involved as HIV was still in existence and even more devastating was the stigma that comes with it.

Mr Kumar said the joint HIV /AIDS Campaign served as their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to the people of Aboadze.

Madam Dzid Enyonam Kwame, Media Specialist for United State Embassy’s PEPFAR, said the focused activities of PEPFAR in the Western Region was to educate the people, especially students to appreciate the importance to protect themselves from acquiring the disease and called on all to stop stigmatising and discriminating against persons who have tested positive for HIV/AIDS.

She said when persons with HIV AIDs are appreciated it would go a long way to stop discrimination and stigmatising against them, and this would also help enhance their life span.

Madam Kwame said the HIV Anti-Stigma Campaign and the Undetectable equal to Untransmitable (U=U) Campaign was an initiative started in 2003 by the then President George W. Bush.

The campaign encouraged 95 percent of people to get tested and put on medication for treatment to get their viral load suppressed.

Madam Kwame stressed that HIV/ADIS did not have cure or vaccine but there were life-saving drugs which help people to live longer, adding that, after taking the drugs for some time the virus in the system would be undetectable and once it is undetectable they cannot be transmitted to another person.

She expressed concern that stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS have derailed the efforts to achieve the UNAIDS Goal 90-90-90, and warned that it was criminal to stigmatise and discriminate against persons living with HIV/AIDS.

One Reverend Azumah and Mrs. Charity Owusu Baylor, both HIV/AIDS ambassadors recounted their ordeal as HIV/AIDS patients saying that, "when you cohabitate and eat with your neighbour the disease cannot be transmitted to the person since it is not contagious".

The two urged the public, especially the youth to be bold and get tested to know their status, to save them from getting the disease.

They also appealed to the chief and DCE as well as the Assembly members of the area to enact bye- laws to protect people living with HIV/AIDS to assist them to lead normal lives.

Nana Kobina Attom III, the chief of Aboadze and Mrs Efua Amoakoah Quansah, the District Director of Education, Shama Education Directorate thanked the Twin City Energy and US Embassy for organising such an important programme.

Mr. Joseph Amoah, the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Shama District said about 3 percent of the entire population of the country were HIV infected and that such people do not know they were carriers of the virus.

The DCE therefore called on people to adhere to preventable measures which included, abstinence, use of condoms, faithfulness to partners, personal care and minimising of blood transfusion.

Mr. Amoah said HIV related stigma and discrimination have adverse effect on the general life of people living with the virus as well as their families.

He reminded the people that they all have roles to fight the menace of HIV/AIDS and urged the various leaders to empower people to understand the mode of transmission and preventive measures.