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Joyce Mensah tested HIV positive in 2007 – AIDS Commission

 

The Ghana AIDS Commission has countered claims by a famous HIV

Campaigner, Joyce Dzidzor Mensah that she has never tested HIV positive.

Ms. Mensah on Monday shocked the nation by claiming that she is HIV

negative. She had for years been the face of the country’s campaign against

the disease and the stigmatization associated with it.

But the Ghana AIDS Commission says she tested positive in 2007.

Read the full statement issued by the Commission

In 2011, the Ghana AIDS Commission embarked on a campaign to reduce

stigma and discrimination suffered by persons living with HIV in order to

provide a human face to HIV. The “Heart to Heart” Campaign was started with

three persons living with HIV; Rev John Azumah, Ms Gifty Torkonoo and Ms

Joyce Dzidzor Mensah.

The key requirements for “Heart to Heart” Ambassador duty, was for the

person to be HIV positive, and on treatment. The person should also have been

an advocate, voluntarily, on HIV-related issues in their communities with focus

on HIV prevention, treatment and reduction of stigma and discrimination. The

evidence of their HIV status was documented at the various health centres

they accessed treatment. Additionally, they were all registered members of

NAP+ Ghana, the Network of Persons Living with HIV. These individuals were

extensively engaged by legal, psycho-social and communication consultants

prior to their going public.

Joyce has been a member of NAP+ since 2007.

Miss Joyce Dzidzor Mensah was recruited as one of the Ambassadors at the

start of the campaign. She was recruited specifically, to promote HIV messages

in the area of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV. She signed

a contract with the Ghana AIDS Commission in August 2011. However, on the

12th of November, 2012 the Ghana AIDS Commission formally terminated

the contract with Joyce Dzidzor Mensah on account of breach of her terms of

contract. Unfortunately she failed to respond or engage with the Commission

for full exit debrief.

On a number of occasions, Joyce had failed to honour her duties related to the

“Heart to Heart” Campaign after agreeing to honour those programmes; she

failed to appear without prior notice to her colleagues or the coordinators of

the campaign; she rather chose to use the time to pursue her personal interest

such as a musical project within the first two years of the campaign; which was

in breach of her contract.

The “Heart to Heart” Campaign is still an active campaign with four current

Ambassadors who are Rev John Azumah, Mrs. Gifty Torkonoo (Degbeh), Mrs

Lydia Azumah and Ms. Charity Owusu-Danso. Joyce Dzidzor Mensah has not

been part of this campaign since December 2012. She has made several claims

on various platforms but has been unable to substantiate any of these to date.

The Commission therefore sees no need to directly respond to some of these

claims.

To the extent that the National response is compromised by her latest

statements, we wish to respond as follows:

By the National HIV and AIDS Policy and the ethics that govern the health

profession, details of Joyce’s health status cannot be shared with the public.

There is evidence to support her initial claim of being HIV positive since 2007

and she has been benefitting from antiretroviral therapy from health facilities

in Accra.

She was terminated on grounds that were fully explained and formally

communicated to her

The remaining Ambassadors remain committed and active under the flagship

of “Heart to Heart” Campaign and continue to work effortlessly to achieve the

goals of this campaign.

The Commission will nevertheless invite Ms Joyce Dzidzor Mensah to

further investigate and clarify her claims in order to inform any subsequent

interventions.

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