Fighting HIV: Should Prostitution be Legalised?
The Ghanaian Times,
Professor F.T. Sai, chairman of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), has called for a national debate on whether or not prostitution should be legalised in the country. He said the issue of whether should be legalised or decriminalised as part of measures for fight HIV spread, was one that should be discussed for a consensus to be reached on which way the country should go. He, therefore, encourage professional bodies, particularly the Ghana Journalists Association, to facilitate such a debate with experts.
Speaking at the media launch in
The conference, slated for
He called for the debate after Prof. Matilda Pappoe from the
She explained that without necessarily legalising the profession, it could be decriminalised for practitioners who are currently practising under cover to come out to be provided with the necessary protection against infection. “We should allow people to work with these prostitutes for them to do the proper thing by protecting themselves and their clients,” she stated.
There have been divided opinions on the issue of prostitution which is a contributor to the spread of HIV/AIDS. While one school of thought believes there is the need to legalise it for it to be properly regulated and for practitioners to be provided the necessary health care and protection, another school of though, from the religious point of view, believes prostitution is evil and should not be approved of.
Dr. Sylvia J. Annie-Akwetey, Director of Policy Planning, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation of GAC, giving a brief on the conference, said the thematic areas for discussions include HIV prevention among women and vulnerable groups, treatment, care and support interventions and legal issues on HIV/AIDS. The Commission, she said has approved 56 abstracts on various topics to be presented by experts from
The conference, which she said is in line with the national strategic framework on HIV/AIDS seeks to encourage coordinated research toward managing and preventing the disease. Sharing lessons from the first conference in 2004, she said it was found out that there was need for Ghanaian researchers to meet often. As a result of that revelation, she said a network of researchers was established for more collaboration among themselves, while an HIV/AIDS database was set up to know what every researcher was working on.
Prof. Sakyi Awuku-Amoa, Director General of GAC, answering a question about the outcome of the free condom distribution during the Ghana 2008 tournament said over four million pieces of condoms were distributed to hotels, the stadia and in public and private institutions. He described the exercise as successful.
As to whether or not the condoms were actually used by the beneficiaries, he said the Commission cannot tell, but added that he believes “the objective was achieved considering the way people were clamouring for the condoms.”