Dr Patrick Bampoe, the Northern Regional HIV/AIDS Coordinator has described HIV/AIDS as a chronic disease but not a death sentence, if managed well.
“HIV prevalence was still high despite the education on it so there is the need to take measure to ensure that people do not get infected”, he said.
He was speaking at a media interaction with journalists in Tamale organized by the Ghana Aids Commission (GAC) to know from journalists their understanding of HIV as well as challenges the media encounter in reporting on HIV related issues.
Dr Bampoe said the HIV virus could be managed if people living with the disease use anti-retroviral medication as a treatment, saying that, “Our anti-retroviral medication works and being HIV positive does not mean the end of your life”.
The event was attended by journalists and regional chairmen of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, as well as ambassadors of Heart to Heart, (H2H), an NGO on Health.
Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene, Director of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation of GAC said they are committed to ensuring that the public is sensitized on the need to manage HIV and AIDS with the antiretroviral treatment.
“We recognized formal training sessions on the status of the National HIV and AIDS response, policies guiding the response and the effect of stigma on persons living with and affected by HIV”, he said.
“There has also been the occasional misreportage or misrepresentation of HIV in the news, which has often caused unnecessary fear and anxiety in the public” and journalist needed the right information to report effectively.
He said “We expect that issues of mutual interest and benefits will be brought up for discussion as well as how best we can increase our efforts and work strategically to achieve our goal of ending AIDS by 2030 under the 90 90 90 AIDS campaign”
The campaign is aimed at ensuring that, all persons living with HIV will know their HIV status, all persons diagnosed with HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral treatment as well as all persons receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression to end AIDS by 2030.
Mr Caesar Abagali, the Northern Regional chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association (GNA), urged the GAC to help train and build the capacity of journalists to report on all health related issues rather than focusing on HIV and AIDS.
He said the region has a high incidence of conflicts and stressed the need for the GAC to institute a mechanism to track persons living with HIV and AIDS to administer the antiretroviral treatment in case they flee to different locations because of conflict.
He was of the hope that with an effective collaboration of stakeholders in the fight against new HIV/AIDS infections the battle would be won and called for a sustained education on condom use and abstinence.
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