Between five and 11 per cent of the population in the tiny West-African country of Ghana are infected with HIV or AIDS.
Dr. Sakyi Awuku Amoa, director general for the Ghana AIDS Commission, made a presentation on the HIV/AIDS pandemic as part of the University of Calgary Centre for Public Interest Accounting distinguished visitor speaker series Fri., Oct. 6.
Amoa said complacency towards protection and treatment of HIV/AIDS is one of the main problems officials face.
Cultural barriers and socioeconomic development also play a large role in the spread of the disease in Ghana. Condom use is reported at only 28 per cent and since many Ghanaians have multiple sexual partners, the disease has spread rapidly.
Amoa also noted areas with high rates of malnutrition and poverty suffer from a greater number of HIV/AIDS cases.
"There is a lot of stigma and discrimination towards people with sexually transmitted infections in Ghana," said Amoa, noting this often deters people from getting tested and seeking treatment.
Amoa explained certain groups are more frequent victims of the disease. Sex workers, prisoners, intravenous drug users, long distance drivers, miners and females are more likely to become infected, he said.
"Unequal power dynamics within relationships and low self esteem among groups with the disease contribute to a lot of the cases," explained Amoa. "We want to empower women so that they can protect themselves."
The Ghana AIDS Commission was formed as part of the initiative to tackle the spread of HIV/AIDS. Their mandate is to form policies and coordinate the effort to inform the public and treat those already infected with the disease.
The commission has set ambitious targets for the fight against HIV/AIDS, with creating awareness as one of the main goals.
"We're dealing with a pandemic that knows no bureaucracy," said Amoa, stressing the main objective is national responsibility.
The Centre for Public Interest Accounting is housed within the Haskayne School of Business. Its goal is to examine and discuss world issues that relate to accounting and financing.
The distinguished visitor speaker series invites international speakers to discuss global problems.
"HIV/AIDS is a very important issue," said Dean Neu, co-director for the CPIA.
The CPIA will host a fair trade forum Thur., Nov. 23 as the next installment in the speaker series.