The Ghana AIDS Commission has responded to claims by Ms. Joyce Dzidzor Mensah, a known HIV activist that she has been living a lie – confessing that she has never been HIV positive.
In a statement issued to the media in Accra Monday December 15, 2014, the Commission indicated that “There is evidence to support her initial claim of being HIV positive since 2007 and she has been benefitting from antiretroviral therapy from health facilities in Accra.”
According to the Commission when it embarked on a campaign to reduce stigma and discrimination suffered by persons living with HIV the “Heart to Heart” Campaign was started with three persons living with HIV; Rev John Azumah, Ms Gifty Torkonoo and Ms Joyce Dzidzor Mensah.
The key requirements for “Heart to Heart” Ambassador duty, was for the person to be HIV positive, and on treatment. The person should also have been an advocate, voluntarily, on HIV-related issues in their communities with focus on HIV prevention, treatment and reduction of stigma and discrimination, it said.
The Commission indicated that the evidence of the three’s HIV status was documented at the various health centres they accessed treatment. Additionally, they were all registered members of NAP+ Ghana, the Network of Persons Living with HIV.
“These individuals were extensively engaged by legal, psycho-social and communication consultants prior to their going public,” it added.
According to the Commission Ms Mensah who has been a member of NAP+ since 2007 was recruited as one of the Ambassadors at the start of the campaign.
“She was recruited specifically, to promote HIV messages in the area of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV. She signed a contract with the Ghana AIDS Commission in August 2011. However, on the 12th of November, 2012 the Ghana AIDS Commission formally terminated the contract with Joyce Dzidzor Mensah on account of breach of her terms of contract,” it said.
The Commission also claims that on a number of occasions, Joyce had failed to honour her duties related to the “Heart to Heart” Campaign after agreeing to honour those programmes; she failed to appear without prior notice to her colleagues or the coordinators of the campaign; she rather chose to use the time to pursue her personal interest such as a musical project within the first two years of the campaign; which was in breach of her contract.
Noting that it would not respond to Ms Mensah’s claims the Commission said, “to the extent that her latest statements compromise the National response, we wish to respond as follows:
1. By the National HIV and AIDS Policy HIV and AIDS policy and the ethics that govern the health profession, details of Joyce’s health status cannot be shared with the public.
2. There is evidence to support her initial claim of being HIV positive since 2007 and she has been benefitting from antiretroviral therapy from health facilities in Accra.
3. She was terminated on grounds that were fully explained and formally communicated to her
4. The remaining Ambassadors remain committed and active under the flagship of “Heart to Heart” Campaign and continue to work effortlessly to achieve the goals of this campaign.
The Commission will nevertheless invite Ms Joyce Dzidzor Mensah to further investigate and clarify her claims in order to inform any subsequent interventions.
Ms. Mensah who has not been apologetic has told various news organizations in Ghana that she has never been HIV positive, and that she has been acting it all these years, insisting that even though she has been lying, her efforts and campaigns have helped lots of people.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi