The Centre for Democratic Development of Ghana (CDD-Ghana) has held a workshop on HIV Anti-Stigma legislation for stakeholders in Koforidua in a bid to advocate for a specific legislation to support Persons Living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIV/AIDS).
Mrs Regina O. Amanfo, Programmes Officer at CDD-Ghana, said in 2008, the centre organized a two-year project to reduce stigmatization and discrimination against Most at Risk Populations (MARPs) and the PLHIV/AIDS based on the numerous reports received from victims.
She said the project focused on educating and sensitizing the public, judiciary, security agencies, health services and the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) on HIV prevention and eradicating stigmatization and discrimination against HIV victims.
Mrs Amanfo said the project realized an absence of a specific law which should provide clear, substantive rights and protections for the PLHIV/AIDS.
“The lesson we have learned from doing this project and also from our observation of what has worked in respect of rights protection in other areas is that this is not enough” she said.
Mrs Amanfo added that legislation was needed to outlaw all forms of discrimination against persons living with HIV and AIDS.
Mr Eric Pwadura, the Communications Manager at the Ghana AIDS Commission, said it was not right to represent HIV persons with skulls and bones since it was also a form of stigmatization.
He called on Ghanaians to put an end to all stigmatization against the PLHIV/AIDS and also appealed to the government to include stigma issues in national development planning.
Mr Kissi Agyebeng, a Criminal Law lecturer at the University of Ghana, said HIV and AIDS victims had already been criminalized and this had made it almost impossible to non-stigmatize them.
“We have criminalized these persons and at the same time trying to non-stigmatize them, this is impossible” he said.
He called on Ghanaian societies not to see HIV victims as criminals since it would be the only way to avoid the stigmatization and discrimination against them.