Nana Asamoah Boakye, a chief at Atuahenekrom, a farming community in the Sunyani Municipality, has advocated the re-introduction of puberty rites to help reduce new HIV infection among girls.
He said the nation’s policy of reducing new HIV/AIDS infection by 50% by 2015 would be a mirage if pragmatic measures were not put in place to encourage teenagers to abstain from pre-marital sex and or with multiple sex partners.
Nana Boakye was speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview after a workshop on HIV for selected chiefs, queen mothers, and women leaders at Abesim near Sunyani.
It was organized by the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA Ghana) with funding from Womankind, a UK-based non-governmental organisation under its project: “Increasing Access to Property and Inheritance Right of Women Living with HIV and AIDS in Ghana”.
Nana Asamoah noted that though the awareness of HIV prevention among the public was high, it had not adequately been translated to behavioural change, especially among the youth.
He said the re-introduction of the puberty rite would serve as a check to prevent the youth from engaging in pre-marital sex and other illicit sexual practices that would minimize HIV spread.
Touching on HIV stigmatization, Nana Asamoah stressed the need for traditional leaders to lead the crusade against victimization of people living with the disease in all areas of life.
He noted that HIV stigma and discrimination had contributed in preventing persons with the disease to seeking the needed assistance from health facilities.
Nana Yaa Kyeremaa, Kronkohemaa of Nsuatre in the Sunyani West District, expressed concern about indecent dressing among teenage girls, especially those in tertiary institutions.
She said school authorities must ensure that strict measures were in place to prevent such behaviours on university campuses.
Nana Kyeremaa said though gender issues were recognized as key to fighting HIV and AIDS, the government had failed to put in place comprehensive strategies to address issues relating to gender.
The Resource Mobilization Manager of FIDA Ghana, Mrs Susan Aryeetey, called on the media to lead the campaign against stigmatization to help reduce the spread of HIV.
She noted that people living with HIV/AIDS also had their fundamental human rights that needed to be protected and condemned all forms of abuses against HIV patients.
Mrs Aryeetey underscored the need to address the structural inequalities, which had made it difficult for women with HIV infection to access their property and inheritance after the death of their husbands.