The First Lady Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo has launched the ‘Free to Shine’ Campaign to speed up the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV.
This campaign is a continental initiative of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV and AIDS, the African Union and the UNAIDS.
The Free to Shine Campaign, according to the First Lady, will deepen efforts and make it possible to end HIV and AIDS in children in Ghana within the next two years.
Collaborating with the Ghana Aids Commission, the campaign was launched under the theme, “Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission: The Key to an HIV-Free Generation and Keeping Mothers Alive.”
“In line with this theme, the Campaign seeks to achieve zero HIV infection in children by 2020, end AIDS in children by 2030 and keep infected mothers alive and healthy,” she disclosed.
She indicated due to the increased demand for services that will come with the campaign, “it is therefore very critical that we remove all bottlenecks associated with the supply side, to meet the expected increase in demand.”
“As a mother myself, I am pretty confident that any mother will do whatever it takes, to ensure that they have healthy children, who can live life to the fullest. This can be achieved quite simply. Test, know your status and treat.”
She continued that, several years ago, HIV was a death sentence – treatment was not available. At the time, it was a fearful and futile exercise to test and know your status. Even when you knew, you kept quiet about your status because of stigma. Things are different now.
“If you test positive, know that you are not alone because there are nearly 40 million people living with HIV globally. The most important thing is to adhere to antiretroviral treatment. Adhering to treatment will also ensure that you give birth to an HIV-free baby who will live and grow free of HIV.”
She also called on “the leadership of the Ghana Health Service, Christian Health Association of Ghana and the Association of Private Health Providers, religious and traditional leaders, development partners and the private sector to support the Campaign and encouraged men to support their pregnant wives to test for HIV.