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Stigma, discrimination said to be hurting AIDS prevention

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http://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/wp-admin/media-upload.php?type=file&tab=library&post_id=92316&post_mime_type=&s=aids&m=0#Reverend Monsignor Bobby Benson, Founder and Director of Mathew 25 House, an HIV and AIDS Care Centre in Koforidua, said despite the strides made in reducing the HIV prevalence rate, stigma and discrimination still remained a challenge.

He said as a result many people still found it difficult to disclose their status to their partners and family members.

Reverend Benson said the situation posed a threat to the gains made in HIV and AIDS prevention since the tendency to infect more people remained high as long as people could not feel free to disclose their status even to trusted partners and immediate families.

In his view, society and all stakeholders in the fight against the disease must do more in the area of reducing stigma and discrimination by focusing on support to those who had already been infected and affected by the disease.

Reverend Benson, who was speaking at a durbar in Koforidua on Friday to welcome the Information Officer of the United States Embassy, Ms Jean Clark, emphasized that without adequate support and care for those infected and especially for their children, stigma, neglect and poverty would be the lot of innocent children.

He told the Information Officer that most of the clients came to the house very weak and sick and dejected but through medical care and counseling they were doing well.

Reverend Benson appealed for funds to be able to set them up in small businesses to reduce their dependence on the House.

He explained that the more they relied on the House for their needs, the more they suffered stigmatization adding that the only activity that generated funds to cater for them had been folded up because of stigma.

The House, which was established 10 years ago by Reverend Benson, cares for 54 HIV and AIDS persons through the provision of food, shelter, medical care and Anti Retroviral Drugs (ART) among others as well as orphans of parents who had died from the disease.

Currently the House caters for 74 orphans and vulnerable children with four of them making it to the university, one to the polytechnic and three to the Vocational and Technical Institutions whiles the rest are at the senior and junior high schools, primary and kindergarten.

Ms Clark commended Reverend Benson for the support and care being offered to the inmates who needed help and promised that the USA was committed to such human centered activities and would link up with the House for the necessary help.

The Information Officer was accompanied by Mrs Joyce Asiedu, Information Assistant of the Embassy, as part of a two-day tour of the Eastern Region.

She earlier on visited some selected media houses, the Koforidua Polytechnic and Bright College at Kukurantumi.

Source: GNA

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