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PRESS STATEMENT ON ZERO DISCRIMINATION DAY 2017 - MAKE SOME NOISE!!!
By Ghana HIV&AIDS Network (GHANET)
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
Partne rs in the HIV & AIDS Response in Ghana,
HIV and AIDS related stigma and discrimination is a pervasive problem worldwide and people living with HIV ( PLHIV) in Ghana, as elsewhere, face stigma and discrimination in a variety of contexts, including the household, community, workplace and health care settings. Widespread stigma and discrimination toward PLHIV in the general population and those perceived to be infected have been recognized to act as barriers to seeking health services and uptake of HIV services including HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC), adherence to antire troviral the rapy and access to supportive services.
Thus stigma attached to HIV, and the resulting discrimination is a critical barrier to achieving universal access to HIV related prevention, treatment, care and support in Ghana. In the light of this, Ghana HIV&AIDS Network (GHANET) on be half Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and other partners, called this press conference to express deep concern about the following issues:
1. That there is continuous perpetration of stigma and discrimination against PLHIV and Most At Risk Populations (MARPs) in Ghana with the worst perpetrators being family membe rs, close associates and healthcare workers.
2. That there is weak enforcement of policies and laws aimed at protecting the rights of PLHIV
3. That women living with HIV in Ghana continue to suffer physical assault, psychological pressure and manipulation by spouses or partners.
4. That PLHIV in general and MARPs continue to live in the fear of being the target of public gossip together with verbal abuse or assault.
5. That most people are afraid of being infected through casual contact.
6. That PLHIV with urban residence had either been forced to change their place of residence or been unable to rent accommodation due to their HIV status.
7. That PLHIV continue to suffer lost of their sources of income because someone went to disclose their status to their clients who stopped patronizing their trade.
8. That the protection of the rights of PLHIV and MARPs at the community level is woefully inadequate.
9. That disclosure to healthcare and social workers engendered more discriminating reactions as well as negative religious and cultural practices .
10. That drug stock-outs and the attempt to avoid stigmatization in their local communities make some PLHIV incur additional travel costs to treatment centers.
Though knowledge levels about the rights, laws and National HIV and STI Policy among PLHIV
and MARPs are encouraging, these have not necessarily translated into its effective application.
There is the need to scale up awareness, education, behaviour change, HIV testing & counseling and treatment services . Therefore we call on all partners including the me dia to join the campaign #zerodiscrimination.
To this end we CSOs in Ghana wish to reiterate our call on government and the relevant state agencies to fully apply the laws against stigma and discrimination i n order to protect the rights and freedoms of Persons Living with HIV and Most At Risk Populations.
Issued in Accra on this 1st Day of March, 2017