It was world AIDS day recently. Although in the UK these types of ‘world day’s get a nod off recognition they often don’t get much more than just this minor lip service.
Here in Ghana though world AIDS day is a big thing.
Obviously AIDS is a big thing in Africa in general but because Ghana is one of the richer African nations I think things are better than average here in terms or infection rates and prevalence (when I asked I was told Nsawkaw doesn’t really have anyone with AIDS) but it is still taken seriously and so world AIDS day is still a big event.
In my district (Nsawkaw-Tain district) all the schools get the day off and there is a big rally in Nsawkaw that all the students go to regardless of if they live locally or further away and come in a school bus.
At the rally there is a lot of singing and dancing to.music. There are also officials in world AIDS day t-shirts handing out AIDS awareness posters, free condoms and leaflets.
Everyone is pretty free and happy, I bumped into some off my students who I took a photo of and they were quite happy to talk about it.
I wasn’t able to stick around for long, which was a shame as I had to go to Sunyani to renew my entry stamp but it was a really fun atmosphere.
As I left they had just organised a rally march through town with banners, a big band and so on, dancing and singing the whole way.
Although I had to leave I was told that over the day there would be many talks about AIDS, AIDS prevention, etc and that they would be providing free testing for AIDS and Hep B for everyone.
I didn’t see so many towns people there, but with the march and general atmosphere there is no way they didn’t know about it.
AIDS, Hep B, and sexual health in general are very important things. This may be TMI for some people (but that’s the precise problem) but regardless of necessity, I try to get a sexual health checkup roughly once a year.
In the west sexual health and associated problems are often taboo subjects, as sort of seems with the whole Hollywood actor AIDSgate, so it’s refreshing to see it being taken seriously in a public setting.
Lets let Africa set the trend for the west here – let’s try and see more AIDS and other sexual health diseases awareness, discussion and compassion rather than stigma, lack of knowledge and treatment as a taboo.