HIV and AIDS epidemic has been one of the most challenging and devastating epidemics faced by mankind in this 21st century. Its rapid spread across the globe accompanied by stigma and discrimination has affected human lives the world over. The impact of this stigma and its affiliated discrimination has had a major impact on economies, households, education, health, human rights abuses among others. Though efforts are being made to curb its rapid spread across the globe, infection rates keep surging and therefore there is the need to globally collaborate across all sectors to control its spread and bring it to an end.
According to the United Nations, ‘there are over 42 million adults and children living with AIDS, of which some 14 million are orphaned children. The current projections estimate that an additional 45 million persons could become infected with HIV in the next eight years if the pandemic. These horrific statistics speak for themselves. The stigma attached to HIV/AIDS and the discrimination against those suffering from the disease, are still keeping many nations and communities in denial of acknowledging this epidemic in their midst, contributing to its spread and further loss of life. The disavowal of HIV/AIDS victims by society, ranges from stigma in assessing health care services and human rights abuses. The World AIDS Day campaign aims to focus on all elements that play a part in effective prevention and care to arrest the spread of the disease’.
As part of the World AIDS Day commemoration across the world, West Africa AIDS Foundation (WAAF) and the International Health Care Centre (IHCC) is creating awareness under the theme “Eliminate HIV related stigma and discrimination” , narrowing down on the negative impact of stigma and how it is perpetuating the spread of HIV.
With 20 years of HIV and TB focused work in Ghana, WAAF has reached people with education on HIV prevention and tested hundreds of thousands of people; helping them to know their status and enrolled positive clients in care at IHCC. IHCC went further with measures to ensure HIV positive client retained in care achieve viral suppression.
WAAF & IHCC continues to recognise and implement strategies to ensure that holistic services are provided to address causes that make its target people vulnerable to HIV. These include working with stakeholders to provide oral Pre Exposure Prophylaxis(PrEP), HIV Self Testing for key populations, intensifying linkage to care for those who are HIV positive and their retainment in care to achieve viral load suppression which leads to Undetectable=Untransmittable
Let us continue to create awareness that the spread of HIV can be prevented through methods such as oral PrEP, safer sex practices using condoms and lubricants, reducing multiple partners, getting tested to know your status, not sharing injectibles, and sharp objects.
Let us all work to end HIV by 2030.