Miss Anastasia Atiogbe, Birim Central Municipal Director of Health Service, has noted that stigma and discrimination are two major issues hampering the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Miss Atiogbe was interacting with a GNA Media auditing and development tracking team after meeting with PLWHA at Akyem Oda under the Herald Foundation HIV Advocacy Project.
The Star-Ghana media auditing and tracking of development projects is an initiative to put a spotlight on how government?s resources are helping to transform the lives of the people.
The Herald Foundation HIV Advocacy Project, which is working in 10 communities in the Birim Central and South Districts, aims to reduce stigma in the society and will run for two years.
Ms Atiogbe indicated that when people living with the disease are stigmatized and discriminated against they could be compelled to go underground and infect more people.
She said due to stigma, some pregnant women, who went for volunteer counseling and testing at the Akyem Oda Government Hospital gave wrong telephone and house numbers and did not go back to the facility to receive anti retroviral drugs when they tested positive to HIV.
?Some of the women alleged that they are beaten by their husbands and later thrown out from their marital homes when they got to know that their wives tested positive to HIV and AIDS?, she disclosed.
Miss Atiogbe said the Foundation aimed to eliminate mother to child transmission to zero but stigma seemed to be a barrier to achieve that purpose.
She said currently the Foundation was meeting with traditional authorities, Imams, assembly members, Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), herbalists and other identifiable groups, to sensitize the public to stop stigmatizing PLWHA.
Miss Atiogbe was grateful to Mr Samuel Appiah-Kubi, chairman, Ghana Union of Umea Sweden, for providing them with a projector, Public Address Systems, photocopy machines and laptops among others.
Mr Kwesi Ahenkorah Anti, Secretary, Herald Foundation, appealed to all to go in for voluntary counseling and testing to know one?s HIV status saying ?the advantages in knowing your status far outweighs the disadvantages?.
He advised the youth to get involved in productive work and to guard against unprotected pre-marital sex.