Accra – Ms. Elsie Ayeh, President of the Network Association of Persons Living with HIV in Ghana (NAP+ Ghana), has announced the organization’s commitment to combating HIV/AIDS stigma and new infections in the nation. NAP+ Ghana, representing persons living with HIV who are undergoing Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART), is taking a leading role in community-based advocacy and strategic action to achieve these goals.
According to Ghana News Agency, NAP+ Ghana is prepared to work alongside stakeholders to address challenges related to HIV/AIDS. Speaking at the launch of the 2023 World AIDS Day in Accra, themed ‘Let communities lead,’ she emphasized the group’s readiness to guide community efforts towards living healthy lives free from fear and discrimination.
ART has been a lifesaver for thousands of Ghanaians in the past two decades, with patient numbers increasing from 9,790 in 2020 to 12,539 in 2022. However, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) reports that since the commencement of the ART program in 2003, over 300,000 individuals have started treatment, but more than half have discontinued treatment or passed away.
NAP+ Ghana, established 18 years ago, is determined to ensure community members receive and continue treatment, while also spreading awareness to prevent new infections. Ms. Ayeh, who has lived with HIV for 28 years, expressed concern over some individuals abandoning medical treatment for prayers and herbal remedies, often with detrimental outcomes. She highlighted the importance of continuous medication for those living with HIV, despite the challenges it poses.
For this year’s World AIDS Day, NAP+ Ghana aims to reach out to the estimated 46,000 people in Ghana unaware of their HIV status. The organization is particularly focused on supporting the youth, who are crucial to the nation’s growth and economy.
Ms. Ayeh also addressed the issue of self-stigmatization among persons living with HIV, emphasizing the need to help these individuals overcome self-destructive attitudes. She called on the government to ensure the availability of ARTs across all regions, making treatment more accessible for people living with HIV.
Through these efforts, NAP+ Ghana is taking a proactive stance in leading community initiatives to combat HIV/AIDS, aiming to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all affected individuals.