Report persons who discriminate against you—PLHIV urged

Report persons who discriminate against you—PLHIV urged
Report persons who discriminate against you—PLHIV urged

Africa-Press – Ghana. Dr Kyeremeh Atuahene, the Director General of Ghana AIDS Commission, has charged Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) to have confidence in the justice system and report people who discriminate and stigmatise against them.

He said the act of discrimination was an offense punishable by law and as such, PLHIV and people affected by HIV should report the cases to the police, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for redress.

The Director General said this at a media engagement to mark this year’s “Zero Discrimination Day,” in Accra on the theme, “Remove Laws That Harm, Create Laws That Empower.”

Dr Atuahene noted that the Ghana AIDS Commission Act, Act 938, a human rights provision in the constitution empowered persons infected, affected and at higher risk of HIV to assert their constitutionally guaranteed rights, hence, they must not allow themselves to be discriminated against.

He said the Commission continued to receive reports of discrimination from persons infected or affected by HIV and said it was time those acts stopped. The Director General said in some cases, PLHIV were disallowed from using the same toilet, bathroom and kitchen with landlords and co-tenants.

“According to the Ghana Statistical Service, the percentage of Ghanaians expressing accepting attitudes towards PLHIV was only 8.5 among women and 14.8 among men in 2003. This increased to 11.4 and 19.2 respectively in 2008 and reduced to 8.0 among women and 14.6 among men in 2014, reversing to the 2003 levels,” he stated.

He said stigmatising and discriminating against PLHIV undermined the national HIV and AIDS Programme, drove people underground and prevented them from accessing what had been made available throughout the country.

The Director General said, “stigma kills 100 per cent more than the disease itself,” and called for the need to collaborate to fight stigma and discrimination.

“Let’s work together and commit to ensuring that no one in this country affected by HIV in one way or the other must suffer discrimination or stigma,” he added. Ms Angela Trenton-Mbonde, the UNAIDS Country Director, said discrimination remained one of the biggest battlefields in the world.

Studies had shown that discrimination against key populations blocked access to HIV services and impacted the quality of care for people living with HIV, she stated. Mrs Trenton-Mbonde said to end AIDS by 2030 and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, there was the need to confront discrimination.

“Ending discrimination and changing laws is the responsibility of us all. Everyone can play a part in ending discrimination and can try to make a difference in big and small ways,” Mrs Trenton-Mbonde added.

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) together with the Network of Persons living with HIV and AIDS (NAP Ghana), at the event called for workable laws to ensure more lives were saved.

Zero Discrimination Day is an annual day celebrated on March 1 each year by the United Nations (UN) and other international organisations to promote equality before the law and in practice throughout all the member countries of the UN.

The Day has been set aside to celebrate the right of everyone to live a full and productive life and live it with dignity and free from discrimination.

Zero Discrimination Day has a butterfly as a symbol, which is widely used by people to share their stories and photos to end discrimination and work towards positive transformation.

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