Many Ghanaians say they cannot muster the courage to check their HIV status, despite the years of campaign to encourage voluntary testing so that individuals could make an informed choice for healthy lifestyles, however the results would be .
A Ghana News Agency Survey ahead of World HIV/AIDS Day, on Saturday, December 1, revealed varied reasons for the inhibition.
They include the fear of stigmatisation, victimisation, the confidence in having a negative status and the fear of living with ‘a death sentence’ on testing positive.
Ms Elizabeth Sackey, a National Lotteries Authority vendor said though the virus could be contracted from other means other than sexual intercourse, people generally blamed victims as being promiscuous, hence the apprehension over the testing.
“I can eat and share utensils with those infected with the disease, but I remain cautious and vigilante to avoid getting an infection should they have cuts on their bodies,” she explained about the stigmatisation.
To avoid stigmatisation, people will choose not to test for it, she said.
Kwesi Ansah, a student said once someone tested positive it was feared that the person would soon die so it wasn’t easy going for a test with the suspicion that it could come with a death sentence.
Mr Jake Akufo, a dealer in sunglasses, disregarded the importance of checking for one’s status, saying he did not engage in unsafe sex.
“In our neighbourhood, we know the causes of AIDS so if I don’t engage myself in such activities, I don’t think I am obliged to go and check, but that said, I get nervous any time when the issue of testing comes up.”
He said additionally, it was common practice for Ghanaians to wait until they were very sick before going to the clinic so it was just in line with that attitude of not going for medical check-ups.
Mr Isaac Fiegbolu, security man at the Ghana News Agency, however, said regardless of the fear, it was important for everyone to know their HIV status, so that they could pursue actions that would boost their immunity levels.
“When you are infected, the doctors communicate to you things to do that would not weaken the immune system further, advice you to eat fruits and vegetables, inform you about restrictions and medications that will help you stay healthy,” he said.
He stated that victims should be given the necessary love and affection in the society, as it would help them feel more appreciated to prolong their life spans as against being stigmatised, neglected and left in isolation.
The World AIDS Day has been marked annually since 1988. It is dedicated to raising awareness on the disease to encourage preventive practices and for mourning those who have died of the disease, while sympathising with those infected.
This year’s national ceremony would be held in the Volta Regional capital of Ho, with a focus on encouraging people to know their status.