Over 52,000 children are living with the HIV in Ghana, the Reverend John Azumah HIV and AIDS Ambassador with the Ghana AIDS Commission has revealed.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of an HIV and AIDS quiz competition held at Ashaiman, Rev. Azumah stated that the rate at which children were infected with the HIV virus was alarming, a situation he said was unacceptable.
He explained that children were the future of the country and it was the responsibility of duty-bearers to protect them from infections.
Rev. Azumah described the infected children as a national problem saying if care was not taken the children would grow and also infect their generation with the virus.
According to the HIV Ambassador, there was a lot of HIV stigmatization in the country hence the rationale behind the quiz competition to equip the children with information to help deal with the stigmatizations associated with the virus.
He advised pregnant women to visit the health facilities to get tested so as to know their HIV status adding that such a move would help the health officials know the appropriate action to take to protect the mother and the unborn baby.
Rev Azumah said married couples should remain faithful to their partners with a call on young adults to abstain from pre-marital and unprotected sexual intercourse.
Ms. Nuerkie Sodjah HIV Focal Person Ashaiman Municipality stated that the Municipal Assembly would continue to embark on intensive educational campaigns across the Municipality.
Ms. Sodjah said parents must pay critical attention to the needs of their children so they do not fall prey to bad people in the communities.
She said her outfit would soon organize several HIV quizzes across the Municipality to keep the children informed on the dos and don’ts as far as HIV AIDS was concerned.
In a related development, the National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NACP) has identified some level of physical abuse of pregnant women who test positive for HIV by their partners.
As part of a National Policy, all pregnant women who went for Antenatal Care (ANC) were routinely offered HIV testing.
Most of the pregnant women who got to know their status were verbally and physically abused by their husbands who got upset because they found out they were HIV positive,
Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo, Programmes Manager of NACP stated at a Stakeholder Engagement and Worker Appreciation Seminar organized by the Tema Regional Office of the Ghana News Agency
The GNA Tema Stakeholder Engagement is a platform rolled out for state and non-state actors to address national issues and serves as a motivational mechanism to recognize the editorial contribution of reporters towards national development in general and growth and promotion of the Tema GNA as the industrial news hub.
Dr Ayisi Addo said: “Some of them did not know they had HIV, and was possible they contracted it from their spouse, and when they inform them about it, they were attacked physically and others were thrown out of their marital homes. This a form of abuse, discrimination and stigmatization,” he said.
That, he explained, had accounted for the non-disclosure of HIV status by some women to their spouses and others because of the abuse usually meted out to them.
He said in managing men who most likely transmitted the virus to the females and got them pregnant, most of whom were innocent, there was the need to develop programmes on prevention education specifically targeted at men to stem the tide.
Dr. Ayisi Addo stated that: “the traditional aspect of the whole conversation should be looked at critically too as some traditions and cultures made it easy for young girls to be betrothed as child brides.”
He noted that prevention education must be intensified at all levels to protect young girls and minors who were at risk of contracting HIV because they continued to engage in unprotected sex.
He said persons living with HIV must undergo complete treatment at health facilities, and insisted that “it is important to invite your partner to be checked and treated as well to prevent reinfection to save lives.”