FILE PHOTO: Nacho Doce/Reuters

ACCRA - The chief of staff at Ghana's presidency on Sunday called for a united effort by all stakeholders to curb stigma associated with HIV. 

Ghana can't end Aids without ending stigma and discrimination associated with it, said Akosua Frema Osei-Opare when speaking at an event marking the 2019 World Aids Day in Accra. 

Observed on Dec. 1, World Aids Day aims to draw attention to the HIV pandemic, take stock of challenges and honor people who have died from Aids. 

Frema said nearly 40 years into the epidemic, discriminatory attitudes continue to push people living with HIV to the margins in communities. 

"To stigmatize or discriminate against a fellow on the basis of a health condition to which we are all vulnerable is a deplorable affront to our collective dignity as humans," she said. 

John Azumah, an HIV ambassador in Ghana, also called on Ghanaians to help overcome the stigmatization of people living with HIV. "We should overcome stigma. Accept friends who have HIV at your workplace and eat with them," he said. 

"HIV is not a curse." Kyeremeh Atuahene, acting director general of Ghana Aids Commission, called on communities to join the fight to eliminate Aids and achieve epidemic control. 

The UNAids Country Director to Ghana Angela Trenton-Mbonde said the UN body remains committed to ending the Aids epidemic and achieving the sustainable development goals by 2030. 

Ghana has made much progress in national HIV response, sustaining a low prevalence of 1.7 percent and having reduced new infections by 22 percent in the last nine years, according to a 2018 national estimate report. 

Xinhua