Reverend John Kwashie Azumah, Minister of the Gospel at Mount Zion Evangelical Ministries and member of ambassadors on HIV Heart to Heart campaign has said “the team had received threats on their lives since they went public with their HIV status”.
He said “those who attacked him included both Christians and non-Christians and they accused him of being a false prophet and a disgrace to the pastoral calling and therefore vowed to eliminate him, his wife and children”.
Rev Azumah who is also the National Chairperson of the International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS, Ghana Chapter (INERELA+gh) disclosed this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra.
He said “although he was worried about the development, but was not afraid because he believed God was using him to tell a story to all those who were pretending to wake up to the reality that HIV and AIDS was no longer an issue of morality but a medical condition“.
Rev Azumah said “while it was globally accepted that HIV was no longer an issue of morality but a medical condition, many were yet to comprehend that the disease was no respecter of persons and its mode of transmission was diverse”.
He said “there was no need to cry over spilt milk, nor [lose valuable ideas], but to hold the bull by the horns and deal ruthlessly with the problem and help give hope to the many people living with the disease and further help eliminate stigma and discrimination”.
Rev Azumah said “stigmatising a person with HIV was in itself sin against God and encouraged all who were affected and infected with HIV and AIDS to strictly adhere to their medication and nutrition guidelines instead of substituting them for prayers from purported ‘Men of God'”.
He said “he was determined and committed in spite of the difficulties they faced from all angles including family, friends, communities to use the “Heart-to-Heart Media Campaign” to eliminate stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS and achieves“zero discrimination” and ultimately a “zero infection””.
Rev Azumah appealed to the media, especially the electronic media to be circumspect in the their diction on issues relating to HIV and AIDS and give accurate reports devoid of all the unnecessary colouring that demean and further stigmatizes people living with the disease.
Mrs Mercy Acquah-Hayford, National Coordinator of INERELA+gh, appealed to religious bodies to offer positive messages that would give hope to persons living with HIV and not condemn them especially those who had boldly and openly declared their status and champion the fight against stigma and discrimination.
She said “some purported religious leaders often deceive unsuspecting and desperate people living with HIV to abandon their medications and substitute them for prayers and after they had deteriorated, were sent off to die away from their prayer camps”.
Mrs Acquah-Hayford advised people living with the disease to take their medications and support them with prayers for spiritual fulfilment and the possibility of total cure.
She appealed to Ghanaians to understand the fact that HIV was real and could affect anyone without caution, therefore the need to support those who had been bold to tell their story and encourage others to follow suit for treatment and care to help halt the spread of the virus and save a generation from the pandemic.
- International Womens Day! (lass.org.uk)