‘Stop stigmatisation to help win HIV fight’

BY: Emelia Ennin Abbey
Dr Naa Ashiley Vanderpuye (2nd left), Medical Director of International Health Care Centre, explaining a point to some dignitaries who attended the launch.
Dr Naa Ashiley Vanderpuye (2nd left), Medical Director of International Health Care Centre, explaining a point to some dignitaries who attended the launch.

Ghana’s quest to ensure that 90 per cent of people living with HIV and AIDS get tested and access treatment by 2020 can be achieved through zero tolerance for stigmatisation and discrimination, the Country Director of UNAIDS in Ghana, Ms Angela Trento-Mbonde, has said.

She observed that stigmatisation and discrimination against persons living with HIV and AIDS were the main factors hindering people from accessing health care to prevent the transfer of the disease.

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Mrs Trento-Mbonde was speaking in Accra at the launch of the 20th anniversary of the International Health Care Centre (IHCC), a medical facility that specialises in the provision of affordable treatment and counselling services to people living with HIV and tuberculosis.

She commended IHCC for its commitment to serve the vulnerable and the underprivileged in society.

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To end the AIDS epidemic, nations, including Ghana, have committed to an ambitious treatment target dubbed 90-90-90.

The 90-90-90 target is aimed at ensuring that by 2020, 90 per cent of all people living with HIV would get tested and know their HIV status, 90 per cent of all people diagnosed with HIV would receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy would have viral suppression to prevent transmission of the disease.

Care/interventions

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The Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director of IHCC, Dr Naa Ashiley Vandepuye, said the centre had in the past 20 years provided quality health care and support to more than 6,000 persons who had tested positive to HIV.

Currently, she said the centre was providing treatment to over 1,500 HIV patients, including about 100 children.

On interventions, Dr Vandepuye said among others, the centre offered mother-to-child transmission services that ensured that HIV positive mothers gave birth to healthy HIV negative children, counselling and treatment services to discordant couples which ensured that in cases where a spouse tested HIV positive and the other spouse was negative, the two could continue to live happily without the positive spouse infecting the other and also have a healthy HIV negative child.

Don't hide status

Launching the anniversary, a broadcaster who doubles as the Chief Executive Officer of GDA Concept and host of the Standpoint television show, Ms Gifty Anti, criticised spouses who did not disclose their HIV and AIDS status to their partners and ended up spreading the disease.

She said the rate at which young people were contracting HIV was increasing and called for a revival of educational campaigns that promoted abstinence, being careful and the use condoms.

The 20th anniversary would be marked with health screening at the Dome Market, a car wash fundraising event at Haatso Total in Accra, among others.

The centre is soliciting for financial assistance to acquire a viral load machine to facilitate the measurement of the amount of HIV virus in a sample of blood, a trailer clinic van to enable the centre to take its service to rural communities, solar panels and other equipment.