Majority of gays in 2 Ghana regions are HIV positive

Eight thousand homosexuals have been registered by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the Western and some parts of the Central regions, with majority of them infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV/AIDS.

They include students in junior and senior high schools (JHS/SHS), the polytechnics and workers.

This came out at a day’s workshop organised in Takoradi yesterday for more 200 health workers drawn from the 17 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the Western Region.

The workshop, which was funded by the United States Agency for international Development (USAlD), was aimed at training health workers to be abreast of the basic facts about HIV and AIDS, as well as manage post-exposure prophylaxis of blood products and body fluids in the course of their work.

It also came out that more than 2,900 lesbians and gays had been registered in the two regions in 2008, the figure trippling as of 2010, with most of them testing not only positive for STDs but also for HIV/AIDS after they had undergone voluntary counselling and testing.

The rise in STDs, including HIV, in the two regions, according to the NGOs, was due to the fact that almost all those registered were bi-sexual, with some having wives and girlfriends.

That, according to the NGOs, resulted in the rapid spread of STDs, including HIV/AIDS.

In his address, the Western Regional HIV and AIDS Focal Person, Dr Ronald Sowah, charged health workers in the region not to discriminate against homosexuals when they visit the various health facilities with health complications for treatment.

“Dispense health services to them without prejudice because it is their fundamental human right to be taken care of when they are sick,” he said.

Dr Sowah said health workers, in the course of their work, were often exposed to various blood bonds and other body fluids such as amniotic fluid, vaginal secretion, saliva, vomit, faeces and sweat that were potentially infectious.

In view of that, he said, health professionals must always wear gloves and other protective gear whenever they worked on patients to avoid being infected.

He said in the event of getting into contact with such body fluids, health workers must quickly wash the fluid with soap and water and report the incident to their superiors for immediate action.

He tasked health workers to promote the use of condoms, sex education, supportive counselling, the management of infections and comprehensive care at all times.

Dr Sowah said he was happy with the stabilization of the spread of the HIV in the Western Region, saying in view of intensified sex education and public awareness, the prevalence rate of the virus in the two regions stood at 2.5 per cent as of last year, below the national prevalence rate of 2.9 per cent.

He said the Focus Region Project was aimed at educating health personnel in the Western, Central and Greater Accra regions on how to reduce the spread of HIV, malaria and hepatitis.

For his part, the Deputy Western Regional Director of Health in charge of Public Health, Dr Kwaku Karikari, advised health workers to always abide by infection control practices and avoid being jittery whenever they were exposed to blood products or body fluids.

Source: Daily Graphic

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