Attendance at the Voluntary Counseling and Testing for HIV and AIDS section has progressively increased at the Adabraka Polyclinic with many patients visiting the place without compulsion to test for their status.
Ms Beatrice Okoh, Principal Nursing Officer at the Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Clinic, in an interview with the GNA on Tuesday, said though she did not possess the total statistics to back her claim, she was certain that the number of voluntary testing at the clinic have increased tremendously compared to the past few years.
She said majority coming in for the tests are women with encouraging numbers associated with men too.
She attributed the gradual changes in the public’s perception about the infection, to the constant mass media education and also the massive efforts of HIV and AIDS advocates, NGOs and other Civil Society Organizations to break the stigma and misconception about the disease.
Ms Okoh, who is also an HIV and AIDS Counselor at the Polyclinic, stressed that with the introduction and availability of the Anti Retro-viral Therapy (ARTs) people who test positive were given the necessary assistance and treatment so that they could lead normal lives.
She said people who tested positive were immediately referred for counseling and testing and constantly encouraged to stay religiously to their medications to prevent drug resistance.
Others who develop complications or strong side effects after commencement of the ARTs are often referred to the Ridge or Korle-Bu Teaching hospitals for further treatment and care, she said.
Furthermore, she said, it is now a national policy that all pregnant women who visit antenatal clinics are tested for HIV to prevent Mother-to-Child Transmission of the virus, but these women are not forced to undergo the test, but are counseled for them to appreciate the health and safety of their unborn babies.
Ms Okoh said due to some of the interventions put in place, the death toll resulting from HIV and AIDS was decreasing and called on the public to patronize the services of the facility not only for HIV and AIDS testing, but also for all other cases of STIs, to ensure good health.