Rebecca Akufo-Addo (right), First Lady, exchanging pleasantries with Dr Kyeremeh Atuahene (left), Director-General, GAC, at the summit. Looking on is Dr Wilfred Ochan (2nd from left), UNFPA Country Representative. Picture: EDNA SALVO-KOTEY
Rebecca Akufo-Addo (right), First Lady, exchanging pleasantries with Dr Kyeremeh Atuahene (left), Director-General, GAC, at the summit. Looking on is Dr Wilfred Ochan (2nd from left), UNFPA Country Representative. Picture: EDNA SALVO-KOTEY

Confront barriers hindering fight against HIV/AIDS progress - First Lady urges stakeholders

The First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has stressed the need to confront barriers such as stigma, discrimination, lack of access to health care and socio-economic disparities that hinder progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the country.

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She said those barriers had not only worsened the spread of HIV, but also perpetuated inequality and injustice. "It is imperative that we address these barriers head-on with courage and determination if we are to succeed in our mission," Mrs Akufo-Addo added.

She was speaking at the opening of a national HIV prevention summit 2024, in Accra yesterday by the Ghana AIDS Commission on the theme: "Breaking barriers, building bridges: Uniting for effective HIV Prevention."

It was aimed at establishing a country-owned prioritised HIV prevention programme agenda, gain insight into the national prevention landscape and assess current HIV prevention efforts, among other objectives.

Participants were to also finalise a milestone developed by the national HIV prevention coalition during the 2025 HIV prevention roadmap review and milestone setting workshop organised early this year.

Collaboration

The First Lady, however, said breaking down those barriers required a concerted effort from all sectors of society to challenge stigma, promote human rights and ensure equitable access to HIV prevention services.

“Let us break down barriers and build bridges that will lead us towards a future free from the threat of HIV, and let us never lose sight of the immense potential that lies within each one of us to make a difference in the lives of others,” she said.

Mrs Akufo-Addo further said that communities must also be empowered to take ownership of their health and well-being with the knowledge and needed resources to protect themselves and their loved ones from HIV.

On innovations in HIV prevention such as injectable, vagina ring treatment and effective antiretroviral medications, the First Lady urged the people to adopt those measures to protect themselves.

Prevention agenda

The Director-General of GAC, Dr Kyeremeh Atuahene, said to improve HIV prevention and achieve the 2025 Global AIDS targets, it was imperative to ensure the country had a prioritised, measurable, innovative and impactful HIV prevention agenda, including a roadmap to ensure a comprehensive national approach for prevention interventions and programmatic scalability.

He said in line with the objective of the national strategic plan to reduce new HIV infections by 85 per cent and the global 2025 HIV prevention roadmap, the country intended to apply a precision prevention approach.

It would also provide people-centred prevention models of care to those at high risk of acquiring HIV, as well as define country needs for adequate scaled HIV prevention response, while ensuring sustainable financing of their activities.

The Director, Allied Health, at the Ministry of Health (MoH), Dr Ignatius Abowini Nator Awinibuno,  said the country needed an inclusive HIV prevention agenda that would recompense all communities of the infected and the affected, traditional institutions, faith-based institutions and civil society coming together to design strategies to reduce new infections.

There were solidarity messages from the UNAIDS Director-General, Dr Hector Sucilla Perez, the UNFPA Country Representative in Ghana, Dr Wilfred Ochan, and the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana.

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