“Stigma and discrimination violates our fundamental human rights to freedom from discrimination as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution,” ‘Heart to Heart’ HIV Ambassadors have said.
The Ambassadors including a couple, The Reverend John Amuzu and Mrs Lydia Amuzu, Joyce Dzidzor Mensah and Gifty Torkornu are supporting Ghana AIDS Commission to fight stigma and discrimination against people living with the disease.
They made the statement at the launch of ‘Heart to Heart’ HIV campaign during which they were unveiled as Ambassadors in Accra.
The launch was organised by Ghana AIDS Commission in partnership with Network of Associations of persons living with HIV with funding from DANIDA and supported by UNAIDS
Reverend Amuzu, Spokesman of the Ambassadors, noted that stigma and discrimination weakened the ability of individuals and communities to protect themselves from HIV and to stay healthy if tested HIV-positive.
He said the practice therefore served as a barrier to achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, thereby hindering the progress towards attaining the health related Millennium Development Goals.
They recommended that legal literacy programmes should be organised to empower those affected by the disease to know their rights and laws in the context of the epidemic.
“There should be human rights training for health care workers that focus on respect, informed consent, confidentiality, non-discrimination and duty to treatment,” he added.
Madam Anita D’Almeida, Assistant Programme Coordinator at DANIDA, expressed the hope that the desired results would be achieved through the open disclosure of HIV sero-positive status by persons living with the disease.
She said DANIDA was grateful to associate itself with such a worthy course of fighting the stigma and discrimination against HIV infected persons.
Dr Leopold Zekeng, UNAIDS Country Coordinator, pledged the organisation’s support to the campaign.
He said over the 30-year period since the disease was first diagnosed, much progress had been attained except in the area of stigma and discrimination. GNA