As the world marks AIDS Day today, stakeholders working in the HIV space have been called upon to take concrete steps to address factors that prevent the accessing of HIV services to persons living with the disease in the country.
In a joint statement issued by the Hope For Future Generations (HFFG), and Young Health Advocates Ghana (YHAG), to mark this year’s World AIDS Day, the groups expressed concerns about how especially young people are denied such services.
“In line with the focus for this year’s WAD commemoration, two organizations: Hope For Future Generations (HFFG) and Young Health Advocates Ghana (YHAG), have jointly issued a press statement calling for stakeholders working in the HIV space to take concrete steps to address factors that prevent the HIV community, especially young people, from accessing essential quality HIV services in Ghana.
“The two organizations, in acknowledging the significant contribution of the Global Fund, UNAIDS Ghana, UNFPA Ghana, the Ghana AIDS Commission, National AIDS Control Programme and other partners in reducing the HIV prevalence, pointed out the urgent need for more to be done to end gender-based violence which has a strong correlation with increment in risk of acquiring HIV among many, especially women and girls,” the statement said.
This year’s WAD is on the theme, “End inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics” and it seeks to highlight the urgent need to end the inequalities that drive HIV infections, treatment and care.
Cecilia Senoo, Executive Director of HFFG, explained that there is the need to also end inequalities that surround issues of HIV, while paying attention to gender-based violence.
“When we talk of addressing inequalities and ending AIDS, we are also talking of paying attention to gender-based violence which causes immediate devastating consequences to many women and girls. Harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, child and forced marriage, rape and other sexual violence still exist in Ghana. So, in addressing HIV and AIDS, we must put in more efforts to tackle gender-based violence which is a serious health and protection issue,’’ she said.
The President of YHAG, Priscilla Ama Addo, also commented on the matter, stating that the novel Coronavirus has revealed the abuses that persons living with HIV/AIDS face.
“The current COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the inequalities and violence faced by victims at the hands of their abusers. As an advocacy and support group that fights for the well-being of young people, we are aware that many young people are unable to access youth-friendly HIV services in Ghana due to fear of stigma and discrimination and we want to appeal to all key stakeholders to take cognisance of this issue or challenge and correct the situation,” she said.
Priscilla Ama Addo added that according to the 2020 HIV National Sentinel Survey Report, nearly 19,000 new infections were recorded in persons aged 15 to 49 with majority of them being females hence the need to eradicate stigma, inequalities and include young people in the creation and implementation of HIV policies and service delivery.
“We humbly recommend that civil society organisations representing children and young people living with HIV are included the creation of HIV policies and are assigned as watchdogs to ensure policy makers/duty bearers are delivering according to policies and implementation plans. We implore all stakeholders involved in the protection of vulnerable people to continue their support towards the vulnerable and remember them in policy formulation,” she said.