HIV/AIDS cases in the Agona West Municipality increased from 103 in 2008 to 141 in 2009, Mr Eric Akobeng, Municipal HIV/AIDS Focal Person, has said. According to him, between January to June 2010, 555 people were screened for HIV in the Municipality and 70, representing 12.6 percent were positive. Mr Akobeng made this known at the inauguration of Hero Network, a Non- Governmental Organization (NGO), based in Agona Swedru to engage in HIV/AIDS prevention and education in the Agona West Municipality. He said the Municipal AIDS Committee is currently preparing an HIV and AIDS strategic plan for 2011-2015 to help reverse the negative trend that had hit the area. The Focal Person said the committee was conducting a baseline survey to obtain information on socio-cultural factors that had necessitated the increase of the pandemic in the Municipality. According to him, the survey would ascertain the pre-marital sex rate, condom use, sexual practices, people’s reaction to testing positive, partner notification and high risk sites and gay sites. Mr Akobeng cautioned health Professionals who discriminate against the people living with HIV and some family members who also stigmatized such people to desist from that habit. Mr Bright Amissah-Nyarko, Executive Director of Hero Network, said the aim of the organization was to educate church leaders, Imams and youth groups on the need to use at least five minutes to educate their followers and congregations on the dangers of HIV/AIDS. He said the organization has selected 20 communities and religious groups, clubs and associations in the Agona West Municipality to train and empower them to educate the people to accept people living with HIV. Mr Amissah-Nyarko expressed appreciation to the Presbyterian Relief Services and Development (PRSD) and Ghana Aids Commission (GAC) for supporting the group financially. Mr Emmanuel Ankamah, National Coordinator of Presbyterian Relief Services and Development, urged the HIV/AIDS organizations to spread the message to cover the youth who were more vulnerable. He therefore called on them to adopt effective strategies that would help increase the knowledge on sexual reproductive health matters, especially STIs, HIV and AIDS among the youth.
Source: Ghana News Agency