Public urged to get tested and treated to end HIV and Aids
The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Stephanie Sullivan has encouraged the public to get tested and treated, as an important step towards ending HIV and AIDs.
According to her, AIDS was no longer a death sentence if people got tested, knew their status and sustained themselves on treatment, adding that persons living with HIV (PLHIV) abandoning treatment would have their viral load unsuppressed, which could cause the person to be sick or lose his or her life.
“People starting and remaining on treatment prevent the spread of HIV and once the person continues to be sustained on treatment, it would get to a point where the individual’s viral load becomes undetectable, which means that the test cannot detect the virus hence the individual cannot transmit to another person although extremely small amount of HIV would still be present in the blood.”
Ms Sullivan was speaking at the closing of a four-week intensive virtual training on HIV and COVID-19 Anti Stigma Campaign, organised by the United States President Emergency Programme for AIDS relief (PERFA) in collaboration with African Centre for Development Reporting and Media Healthlink for some selected journalists across the country.
The training, was to build the capacity of the journalists to enhance their reportage to better inform the public on HIV issues towards achieving the UNAIDS fast tract goal 95-95-95.
Ms Sullivan said the introduction of the one dose antiretroviral drug a day instead of two dozes was heart-warming, “knowing that when one is sustained on treatment for six or more continuous months, he or she does not transmit the virus through sex”.
The US Ambassador to Ghana, urged the media to raise awareness on the “test and treat programme” in order to improve the lives of PLHIV.
“Your continuous coverage presented in a non- technical way and your ability to help your audience to clearly understand the key difference between when the person is on treatment or not will be critical to improving the public health of the country as well as save many lives.
She said explaining HIV and AIDS issues to the ordinary people to understand would also help to address issues of stigma and discrimination as well as encourage PLHIV to take advantage of the available HIV services.
Ms Sullivan said the US government and the government of Ghana have worked
hand-in-hand over the years to improve HIV epidemic control and would continue to remain deeply committed to working with the government to extend key population’s access to quality, stigma-free, live saving HIV prevention, testing and treatment services.
The PERFA Media Specialist, Dzid Kwame recounted that huge investment have been made by the US government in previous years through PEPFAR in areas including capacity building, as well as in the testing and treatment of PLHIV.
She stated that it was necessary to speak about HIV and AIDS, especially in the era of COVID-19 so that the focus to achieve the 95-95_95 UN fast -track goal of ending AIDS by 2030 was not shifted.
She urged the media to continue to educate the public to enable them understand HIV issues, get tested and sustain themselves on treatment, adding that it would help achieve the goals set by 2030.
From Ama Tekyiwaa Ampadu Agyeman, Koforidua