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‘HIV is No Longer a Disease’: Says US Embassy in Ghana’ Press Officer, Naomi Mattos

Miss Naomi Mattos, press secretary at the US Embassy in Accra, Ghana, argues that HIV is no longer a disease, but a condition that requires support to “eliminate” the stigma and discrimination associated with it.

She adds that it is time for people to understand that the situation is a problem that concerns everyone and that everyone avoids discriminatory attitudes.

Miss Mattos made the statement during a briefing with staff at the Ho Municipal Hospital as part of World AIDS Day activities this year and the 10th anniversary of the US President’s emergency plan to fight against this disease (PEPFAR) in Ghana.

PREFAR is campaigning on the sub-theme “HIV Stigma and Anti-Discrimination: Just Stop It”, and targets young people aged 14 to 18 with prevention and protection messages.

“We must recognize that we are part of the solution and do not become an obstacle,” Miss Mattos said and asked the press to help eradicate stigma.

Agenda 90-90-90 means that 90% of people will know their HIV status, 90% will receive antiretrovirals and 90% of people with the disease would be subject to viral suppression by subjecting the disease to HIV and AIDS under control and avoid spreading.

Ms. Dzid Enyonam Kwame, a media expert at PEPFAR, noted that stigma continues to hinder progress in eradicating HIV in the country and called for concerted efforts to address this challenge. 
She urged health workers and caregivers to lead the anti-stigma campaign professionally, whether on duty or not, and to encourage people to be tested and to access care.

Ms. Kwame said that confidentiality was essential to eliminating stigma and asked health workers, the main source of hope for people living with HIV to maintain trust.

Reverend John Azumah, HIV ambassador, said health workers could help fight stigma by complying with medical data regulations.

He added that stigma has discouraged more than half of the 350,000 people living with HIV in Ghana from seeking medical care, which has increased prevalence.

Rev. Azumah said that practices in health facilities, such as denomination, marking of records and designation of special beds for HIV-positive people, should be stopped.

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