Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ghana recorded 22,541 HIV/AIDS cases last year

Mr Kwame Brefo-Boateng, Tema Metropolitan HIV/AIDS Focal Person, on Tuesday said that 22,541 new HIV/AIDS infections, comprising 9,996 males and 12,545 females were recorded nationwide last year.He said that 18,082 AIDS related deaths made up of 8,080 males and 10,001 females also occurred in the country during the same period. Mr Brefo-Boateng announced this at a day's dialogue on HIV/AIDS organized by the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Ghana) and WOMANKIND-UK, a British non-governmental organisation (NGO), in collaboration with the Tema Metropolitan AIDS Committee, in Tema on Wednesday.The programme was on the theme: "Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Women Affected and Infected by HIV and AIDS". Mr Brefo-Boateng said negative socio-cultural practices such as inheriting of widows, popularly called "bye elections" in the Upper West Region made women vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.He also mentioned rape, defilement, prostitution, Female Genital Mutilation and the biological make up of the female reproductive organ as other vulnerability factors.Mr Brefo-Boateng said the Metropolis recorded 177 HIV/AIDS cases last year, bringing the prevalent rate to 2 per cent, which according to him was an improvement on the 370 cases recorded in 2007, with a prevalent rate of 2.2 per cent.He said that 612 people took Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) last year and 741 people went through the same exercise in 2007 in the Metropolis.He said that out of 310 tuberculosis patients who were counselled on HIV/AIDS, 291 of them underwent VCT for the disease last year and 102 of them tested positive, in the area. Mr Faisal Bawa, Programmes Co-ordinator of FIDA-Ghana, said that women were mostly affected by HIV/AIDS partly due to violation of human rights perpetrated against them.He said that "the HIV virus thrives where there are human rights violation. Many cultures engage in traditional practices that violate the rights of women and expose them to the disease." Mr Bawa said that stigmatization and discrimination against People Living with HIV/AIDS was violation of their rights which prevented others from going for VCT for the disease, leading to its spread.

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