STORY BY: Makafui Apeku
FACE AIDS AUCC Chapter inaugurated
A chapter of Face Aids, a Rewandan-based organization, has been inaugurated at the African University College of Communications (AUCC) to join the national response to HIV and AIDS.
The inauguration which took place at the premises of AUCC on Friday 6th February, 2009 was under the theme; “Fighting HIV and AIDS in Ghana, the role of students.”
The ceremony was held under the chairmanship of Prof. Absalom Mutere, Dean, Journalism and Communications of AUCC.
Opening the event, Prof. Mutere said, HIV and AIDS is an incurable disease which puts everybody at risk and said everybody must be cautious in order not to be infected. Prof. Mutere expressed concern about the high levels of HIV and AIDS cases in Africa and attributed that to high illiteracy rates, poverty and the high cost of anti-retroviral drugs.
Being an HIV and AIDS prevention activist himself, Prof. Mutere advised African communities to raise standards on moral attitude as a way of preventing HIV infections. “A society of high moral standards will surely win the fight against HIV and AIDS and other deviant behaviors.” He said.
Prof. Mutere added that, Face Aids (AUCC Chapter) should be given all the necessary support and encouragement to promote good dialogue to prevent HIV infection in Ghana and in other countries and promised his personal support towards that.
Prof. Mutere advised students to take active part in the activities of the club in order to help eradicate the gloomy picture that confronts the country today. He said that, as student Journalists, members of the club need to take the lead role in the fight against the pandemic since society depends on the media for information and advised students to put their hands on deck in order to win the war against HIV and AIDS. This he said, will secure a better society for the younger generation and the generations yet unborn.
In her address, the guest speaker, Miss Gladys Damalin, Program Officer of the Opportunities Industrialization Centres International (OICI), revealed the rather scary information that 63% of the world’s population living with HIV and AIDS are in Sub-Saharan Africa which is a great course for concern. By this statistics, according to Miss Damalin six out of every 10 people in Sub-Saharan Africa is living with HIV.
Yet another shocking revelation by Miss Damalin was that 250,000 people are living with HIV in Ghana of which 60% of them being women and 17,000 being children. Miss Damalin emphasized that these scary figures only represent the reported cases which means the number could be higher as a lot of cases are not reported.
She advised the youth to seek education, go for voluntary testing and counseling and encourage others to do the same.
Advising them also, she said they must desist from stigmatization and lead a responsible life since these are sure ways of reducing the disease if not to eradicate it.
Mr. Ato Amoaning-Anna, Associate Dean Diploma Program and Student Affairs of AUCC in a presentation said HIV was not given enough attention and courage by the media when it was first detected leading to lack of information and awareness of the disease. He was however happy that the media houses are now giving much coverage to the pandemic which has created enough awareness of the disease.
Mr. Amoaning-Anna urged media houses to expand the coverage of HIV and AIDS and go into detail in their reportage on the issues of stigmatization, discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS among many others.
He encouraged journalists especially student journalists to be interested on how to report stories on HIV and AIDS. He said “it is only when you understand the language of the disease that you will be able to report on it accurately.” This will surely help solve or better still reduce the enormous problems that HIV and AIDS poses.
Mr. Dennis Moot the President of Face AIDS (AUCC Chapter), in his remarks said that HIV and AIDS is no respecter of persons and advised his colleagues to live upright lives since every body is at risk of the epidemic.
He appealed to stakeholders, opinion leaders, organizations, corporate institutions and individuals to support the efforts of Face Aids to win the fight against the HIV and AIDS pandemic.