Koforidua prison records eight HIV/AIDS positive cases in 2009
The Koforidua prison recorded eight HIV/AIDS positive cases last year, while one case has so far been recorded this year.
Ms Florence Dorgbo, Chief Officer of the Prison, disclosed this when members of the Eastern Regional AIDS Committee paid a familiarization visit to the place on Friday to monitor the HIV situation in the prison.
She said health education on HIV/AIDS prevention as well as change in behaviour towards the disease are being carried out in the prison.
Ms Dorgbo said prisoners living with HIV/AIDS are counselled and referred to the Regional Hospital for treatment, adding that they were always accompanied to the hospital by nurses to prevent harassment or stigmatization.
She said drugs were collected and administered to them in the infirmary at all times and later introduced to Hope and Faith, a NON-Governmental Organization (NGO) at the Saint Joseph Hospital in Koforidua for support services.
Ms Dorgbo mentioned the lack of a Counseling and Testing Centre for HIV/AIDS patients and the absence of confidentiality of clients as some of the challenges facing the prison.
Others are inadequate support for prisoners living with HIV/AIDS.
“They complain of hunger whiles on medication, since inmates continue to be fed on 60 Ghana pesewas for three meals a day,” she said, adding that the lack of resources to carry out HIV/AIDS educational activities within the prison community was another constraint.
Ms Golda Asante, Regional Focal Person on HIV/AIDS, disclosed that the region for the past three years recorded the highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the country.
She said the committee was coming out with strategies to address the situation, adding that the prisons would not be left out.
Dr S. B. Ofori, Regional Co-ordinator, National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), stressed the need for all to go in for Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) to know their HIV/AIDS status.
He said HIV/AIDS was like any other chronic disease, and advised that people should not be afraid to go in for the VCT, adding that drugs are available to help prolong the lives of those who may test positive for the disease.
During an open forum, the authorities at the prison complained about congestion in the cells leading to skin rashes on the inmates. They expressed the fear that the situation could lead to the spread the disease.