People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHAs) have called on governments, researchers and policy makers to involve them in decisions that affect their well-being.
They contended that as direct beneficiaries of such policies, they should be engaged from the beginning and not to bring them on board during the implementation stage.
Speaking on various topics at the ongoing 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, PLWHAs stressed that the issue of HIV could not be solved by science alone.
“ARVs alone cannot stop new HIV infections. Scientists need to work with those of us who understand why the science failed us,” a Board Member of the Indonesian Positive Women’s Network, Ms Ayu Oktariani, told delegates at the conference.
She said PLWHAs should be engaged in HIV education programmes in schools and clinics, where people were diagnosed, “so they do not live for years in shame and denial.”
She called on all young people living with HIV and those who cared about them to work together to make a better world where young people received information they needed and all PLWHAs were treated with respect.
Contributing, the President of Network of Persons Living with HIV and AIDS (NAP + Ghana), Mr Kofi Amofa, said even though the Ghana AIDS Commission was helping them with advocacy, “We still think we need to be involved in activities that concern us from the preparation till the implementation.”
Members of NAP+Ghana are also invited for national outreach programmes, he added, “but we should be part of it from the planning stages and not when all is set and they just call us to be part of an outreach programme. Our concern is to know much about the planning.”
But in a reaction, the acting Programme Manager of the National AIDS/STIs Control Programme, Dr Stephen Ayisi Addo, said the Ghana Health Service (GHS) had been involving members of the NAP+ Ghana in its review meetings where “we discuss issues that affect them and they make inputs.”
He said on a very regular basis, there was a channel of communication with the NAP+ Ghana executive, explaining that the issue was that the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) approached HIV as a technical issue.
Dr Addo gave the assurance that his outfit would continue to involve them as much as possible “in everything that we do.”
Currently, he stated that there was the move to involve PLWHAs in their own care at the facility level, adding that the GHS had developed documents and guidelines, through which PLWHAs would be part of the health system, working with doctors and nurses.
Source: Daily Graphic
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