World AIDS Day: No One is Safe, Until Everyone is Safe - Amb. Sullivan

World AIDS Day: No One is Safe, Until Everyone is Safe - Amb. Sullivan
Photo Credit: U.S Embassy Ghana

The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Her Excellency Stephanie S. Sullivan has deepened calls for stigmatization against persons living with HIV (PLHIV) to end.

Her admonition follows continuous global efforts targeted at ensuring an HIV-free world by the year 2030.

Ambassador Sullivan revealed this in a virtual address, to commemorate World AIDS Day on Tuesday, December 1, 2020.

“Stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV often cause people to avoid getting tested, disclosing their status, seeking treatment, and staying on the life-saving medication that will also stop the spread of the disease to others. When a member of our community is stigmatized or unable to access services, it threatens their livelihood, the health of their families, and the broader one is safe until everyone is safe, and that we must all work together to bring an end to HIV/AIDS.”

She continued: “We must continue to end stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. They are our family members, neighbors, and friends. Together with our partners, we support the government of Ghana’s HIV/AIDS response to ensure that Ghanaians overcome stigma and discrimination and have access to quality HIV testing and treatment services.”

The Ghana AIDS Commission 2019 National HIV Estimates and Projections indicated that persons living with HIV in Ghana numbers are about 342,307, and out of this figure, 316,352 are adults and 25,955 are children.

Meanwhile, over 18 million lives in over 50 countries including Ghana have been saved, new infections reduced, mother-to-child transmission prevented, and progress towards global HIV/AIDS epidemic control accelerated, in the past 17 years, through interventions by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The American people through PEPFAR, have devoted a whopping $85 billion, to the global HIV/AIDS response, the largest commitment by any nation in history.

Also, since 2008, Ghana has benefitted from a $140 million investment to help curb the spread of HIV and ensure sustained support for PLHIV through effective treatment.

“During the last 12 months, PEPFAR has supported the government of Ghana to test 121,332 people, diagnosed 5,321 HIV positive people and initiate antiretroviral therapy for 4,502 people”, Ambassador Sullivan hinted.

In 2019, 8,275 deaths were averted with the intervention of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART), and a projected 11,733 deaths are expected to be averted in the year 2020.

The US Ambassador to Ghana further underscored her country’s long-standing partnership with the Ghanaian government and other key institutions to promote the health and wellbeing of Ghanaians.

“We’ve worked closely with the Government of Ghana, civil society, and other partners for decades to combat the spread of HIV. Who can forget the 1999 social marketing campaign “If It’s On, It’s Not In?”

She expressed optimism that, with shared responsibility, sense of purpose, and dedication, the UNAIDS ultimate goal of “Test and Treat”, “95-95-95 by 2030” and “Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U)” can be reached in Ghana.

Although this year’s universal theme was “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility”, Ghana adopted the theme “Stay Safe, Let’s End AIDS by 2030”.

“When people living with HIV feel secure and have uninterrupted access to HIV treatment, we’re helping to keep them as well as ourselves and the community safe. We look forward to continuing our work together to ensure that Ghana achieves its vision of ending AIDS by 2030”, she concluded.