Dr Sampson B. Ofori, a consultant and HIV prevention and treatment specialist, has stated that HIV still remains a threat and there is the need for continuous and sustained education on prevention, especially on the Anti Retroviral Drugs (ART)
He said despite the gains made, more education and sensitization is imperative, since new infections are being recorded every year, and those on treatment are abandoning their treatment schedule and going to prayer camps and herbalists, who promised them cure, adding that, stigma is also on the ascendancy.
According to Dr Ofori, the seeming low education and sensitization on HIV as compared to the past, was giving room for charlatans and so called herbalists/pastors to deceive people that they had found cures leading to many defaulting in their treatment.
He was speaking at a Close Out -Session for a team of students and lecturers from Providence College, Rhode Island, USA, who visited the Eastern Region as part of an outreach programme to support HIV work and activities.
The visit is in line with an outreach programme between the Providence College and the Mathew 25 House, an HIV and AIDS care centre in Koforidua, that provides shelter, medication and food for HIV patients as well as care for orphans and vulnerable children whose parents had died from AIDS.
The team visited Mount Mary College at Krobo-Odumase, interacted with Persons living with HIV (PLWA;s) at Mathew 25 House, visited 12 HIV persons on treatment but have defaulted and offered counselling and testing services to over 850 people in the various locations including Nkurakan, as part of their duty tour.
The leader of the team, Dr Comfort Ateh, an Associate Professor in Biochemistry at the Providence College, noted that, in their interaction with the defaulters on HIV treatment, it was clear to them that, the ART was the only hope for survival now, but poverty and stigma are preventing many, to access the ART treatment.
She therefore recommended to government and all stakeholders to work hard in putting in measures that would address stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV, in order to achieve the 90-90-90 agenda targeted at eliminating HIV and AIDS.
Dr Ateh, was full of praise to the Mothers of Hope, a network of HIV infected persons who were working at health centers and rural communities to encourage others infected to seek healthcare from hospitals and not from quack herbalists, “for standing out tall despite the stigma to use their lives as an example for others”.
She also commended the six female students from the Providence College, who volunteered to come to Ghana and support Mathew 25 House in its HIV activities and indicated that the experiences they had acquired would go a long way in their various studies as medical doctors, biochemist and psychologist, among others.
Ms Golda Asante, a Deputy Director of the Eastern Regional Coordinating Council and former Regional focal person on HIV and AIDS, said the 7-day activities of the team had made an impact on the lives of many, especially for the over 850 people who came out to test and the defaulters.
She said, it is difficult for people to go and test at health facilities, but the intervention of the team brought the counselling and testing services to the doorstep of the beneficiaries, adding that, the 90-90-90 agenda could only be achieved through the concerted effort of all stakeholders.