Stigmatizing persons living with HIV | Persons living with HIV in the country are still facing the dire consequence of a lack of understanding of what HIV really is.
In an exclusive interview with the Ghana Health News, some persons living HIV stated that “we are still being stigmatized, despite the education that has gone on”
Speaking in some loud tones, two persons who spoke the Ghana Health News blamed the kind of reports that were churned out when HIV was first discovered in Ghana, claiming, the way people spoke about HIV in the media was very bad, and that is how people still see it.
They lamented that “people still don’t know the difference between HIV and AIDS and people still think HIV is so contagious that when you shake hands with a person living with HIV, you will also contract the virus”
It is the aim of the Ghana AIDS Commission that by the year 2020 90 percent of people who are living with HIV and are on treatment should receive viral load suppression to an undetectable level.
This is facing a huge challenge in that, many who are living with the virus stay in a denial stage where they refuse to accept their current condition.
One of the persons who spoke to this reporter claim, she was in a prayer camp for a long time and her health kept deteriorating till she was taken to the ART site by a philanthropist.
According to her, there are many such people who would not own up to their condition because of the stigma associated with HIV.
According to a publication by the Ghanaian Times of July 11, 2019, 334,000 people are estimated to be living with HIV as of December 2018. This was accordingly disclosed by the Executive Director of the West African Program to Combat AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (WAPCAS), Mrs. Comfort Asamoah-Adu.
According to the publication, about 113,000 of those living with the condition were receiving treatment within the same period.
This number may well be below the number expected to be on treatment since the fear of being stigmatized still keep a lot of people away from accessing treatment.
Stigmatizing persons living with HIV
During a defaulter tracing exercise by a joint team of the Koforidua regional hospital and the Ghana AIDS Commission, it emerged that persons living with the virus defaulted for years because people living in their communities saw them accessing treatment at the ART site and later on went to spread information about their condition.
Such are the challenges that confront PLHIV.
This is the reason why there is a call for the treatment of HIV to be looked at again.
If people would not be stigmatized, more people living with the virus would open up to treatment, and targets of 90 percent of HIV positive persons being on treatment and subsequently achieving viral suppression can be met.