17 Eylül 2008 Çarşamba

HIV/AIDS material must be mandatory

The chief of Koforidua-Ada, Odeefour Boadi Asiedu on Friday suggested that the display of HIV warning signs and sale of condoms in hotels and rest houses should be a condition for granting of operating licenses.

He made the suggestion when it came to light at a policy dialogue forum on HIV/AIDS at Koforidua that operators of some hospitality facilities refuse to display the HIV warning signs and also sell condoms in their facilities because they go against their religious beliefs and faiths.The forum was organised by the 4-H Ghana, an International Youth Movement to reinforce the Ghana AIDS Commission and Ghana Tourist Board policy of reducing new HIV infection in high transmission areas (Hot spots).Odeefour Boadi, who chaired the function said Ghana is at war against the AIDS disease and people should not be allowed to hide behind their religious faith and beliefs to make others die.

The Executive Director of the 4-H Ghana, Appiah Kwaku Boateng recalled the efforts made in the New Juaben Municipality to reduce the HIV prevalence rate from 8.5percent to 4.4 percent in 2002 to 2005. But, today, he said "many of our hospitality facilities complain of keeping condoms in their facilities due to the religious faith and beliefs".Mr Kwaku Boateng declared, “If we are promoting or facilitating a process that could promote high risk attitudes, then we owe it a duty to protect our cherished clients”.He said if Ghanaians would allow religious belief to take precedence over their lives, “then God help us all,” adding, “HIV does not know who is religious”.

He said the Movement was targeting hotels and drinking bars among others, explaining that love and intimacy begin in those areas. Mr. Kwaku Boateng said if Ghanaians could prevent unprotected sex through condom use, they would reduce the infection rate by 80 percent.and then Emmanuel Coomson of the Koforidua Central Hospital disclosed that a total of 264,000 Ghanaian adults are infected with the HIV/AIDS every year with 16,000 children also infected through mother to child transmission.He said a Ghana demographic survey report released in 2007 indicated that Ghana has HIV prevalence rate of 2.6 percent. its very high percent.But, Dr. Coomson said while 0.4 percent was recorded in the Krachi area in the Volta Region, Agomenya in the Eastern Region had 8.9 percent prevalence rate. He said, for three consecutive years, Eastern Region has been first in the prevalence ratings.

The New Juaben Municipal Chief Executive, Nana Kwasi Adjei Boateng reminded hotel operators that until they openly preach against unprotected sex and HIV/AIDS, their businesses would grind to a halt in a few years due to a decline in patronage.Nana Adjei Boateng advised hoteliers to make condoms available at all the times, and that saying “protect your customers to also protect your business.”He also urged churches to preach against promiscuous sexual behaviour and unprotected sex saying, “your churches would become empty in some years to come if you don't help us to fight the HIV/AIDS disease”.