More women likely to be infected with HIV – Dr Abrefa-Gyan

Accra Women living with HIV/AIDS in rural areas receive less social support than their males counterparts, Dr Tina Abrefa-Gyan, an Assistant Professor at the Norfolk State University in the United States has observed.

She said the situation was contributing to high stigma against women living with HIV/AIDS, stressing that, if nothing was done more women in the country were likely to be infected with HIV.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra, Dr Abrefa-Gyan who is an activist on gender and development issues said, Anti-Retroviral services were becoming increasingly important around the world as AIDS-related deaths continued to fall.

She told the GNA that, she had done extensive research on HIV/AIDS in the country, saying access to social support for women, especially those in rural and deprived communities in the country must be increased,

In addition, access to ART services ought to be expanded in the country for women living with HIV/AIDS to easily access.

Dr Abrefa-Gyan emphasised that comprehensive care and support would facilitate access to treatment when, particularly a woman, is diagnosed with HIV, to attain viral suppression and prevent infecting other people.

Access to HIV testing programmes must be expanded so that women and men who need treatment can be referred immediately and supported to adhere to treatment as well, she stated.

Dr Abrefa-Gyan indicated that HIV/AIDS had gone beyond health problem, cutting across all social sectors and underscored the need for the country to ensure that ART services were immediately provided to people who test HIV-positive.

This must go alongside with comprehensive care and support, counselling and testing, legal, social and economic support, mental health and emotional support and access to contraceptive and health services.

Dr Abrefa-Gyan pointed out that public health programmes aimed at identifying individuals, who are HIV-positive and their high risk partners, to offer testing and other services were necessary, to reduce HIV transmission rates in the country.

She emphasised on the need to empower women living with HIV and their households to be financially independent to strengthen adherence to treatment to enable them to live a more fulfilling and dignified lives.

Dr Abrefa-Gyan also called on government to mobilize domestic resources to ensure sustainable and affordable access to HIV treatment, for all, to ensure that all women have the same chances to raise HIV-free and healthy children.

She indicated that significant increases in domestic funding would enable the country to rapidly expand HIV programmes, intensify public education and help bring new infections under control.

Source: Ghana News Agency