Let’s embrace all despite HIV status- Ameyibor

Mr Francis Ameyibor, the Executive Director of Communication for Development and Advocacy Consult (CDA Consult), has urged Ghanaians to create a society that treats people living with HIV with dignity, respect, and compassion.

He emphasised a need for education, support and policy changes to combat stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.

Speaking at a sexual reproductive health conference in Accra, Mr Ameyibor proposed strategies for creating a supportive environment in schools, including education and awareness, support systems, confidentiality and inclusive policies to ensure Ghana broke barriers and built a society that embraced everyone, regardless of their HIV status.

The conference was organised by the Women’s Commission of the Association of Computing Students (ACS) of the Ghana Communication Technology University.

It was on the theme: ‘Breaking the Stigma: Empowering the Youth through STD Awareness.’

Mr Ameyibor said: ‘For too long, people living with HIV have faced discriminati
on, prejudice, and fear, leading to social isolation, low self-esteem, and poor health outcomes.’

‘But we can change this narrative. We can create a society where people living with HIV are treated with dignity, respect, and compassion.’

He called for self-education on HIV/AIDS, pointing out that, ‘HIV is a medical condition, not a moral failing. It’s transmitted through bodily fluids, not casual contact. Let’s dispel harmful myths and misconceptions.

‘Second, let’s use inclusive language. Avoid terms like HIV victim or AIDS sufferer. Instead, let’s say persons living with HIV or individual with HIV.’

‘Third, let’s support those affected. Listen to their stories, offer emotional support, and advocate their rights.

‘Fourth, let’s promote universal access to healthcare, including HIV testing, treatment, and care.’

Mr Ameyibor called for the creation of safe spaces for people to share their experiences without fear of judgment and engagement in awareness campaigns to combat stigma and promote acceptance.

‘Let’s support organizations working to address HIV-related issues. Let’s remember that people living with HIV deserve respect, love, and dignity.’

‘Together, we can break barriers and build a society that embraces everyone, regardless of their HIV status.’

Mr Richard Peter Yalley, Senior Nursing Officer in Charge of Public Health, TB and HIV Coordinator, Ga West Municipal Health Directorate, advised against unprotected sex, which could lead to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, with dire consequences as infertility, spontaneous abortion, and premature birth.

He noted that HIV attracted social stigma due to infertility and economic consequences and stressed that abstention from sex was the best protection from HIV.

‘Only a consistent and correct use of condoms can do a dual protection from sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy.’

‘You need to wash your hand well before wearing a condom, don’t use your teeth,’ Mr Yalley advised.

Rev Kenneth Ayeh Danso, Head, Strategic Informat
ion Unit, National AIDS and STI Control Programme, said about 330,00 people in Ghana were HIV positive.

‘Seventy per cent of the people know they have the disease, but 30 per cent don’t know they have it,’ he said.

He advised that people should go for HIV testing, but make sure to go for counselling before testing.

Rev Danso said HIV was not the end of the world and urged people with the infection to continue with their medication, exercise rightly, eat well and maintain their social interactions to ensure longevity.

Ms. Ethel Serwa Aidoo, Women’s Commissioner of ACS, urged society to advocate the rights of people living with HIV AIDS, saying; ‘Tomorrow it may be your turn.’

Source: Ghana News Agency