Dealing with HIV/AIDS and poverty in fishing communities : how risky are artisanal marine fisher-folks at Elmina in Ghana?
The work examines the knowledgeability of fisher-folks as well as determines the extent to which their livelihood influences their susceptibility to HIV/AIDS infection. By making specific reference to fisher-folks at Elmina fishing community in the Central Province of the Republic of Ghana, it particularly challenges the hypothesis that fisher-folks are highly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection. The analysis thereof draws on elements from risk, social cognition and diffusion of innovation theories that are deemed useful in a study of HIV/AIDS. The study finds that although awareness level among the fisher-folks is high, their understanding and knowledge of the facts of the epidemic are significantly low. It therefore argues that the prevailing knowledge gap could cause many of the fisher-folks to become victims of the epidemic. Also, irrespective of the fact that the Ministry of Fisheries has a direct oversight responsibility over the fisheries sector in Ghana, it has neither incorporated nor prioritized the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS in its policy and programs. The study reveals that wide spread of the disease among fisher-folks could significantly deprive the country of fish food as a result of lost of fishers’ lives. It could also exacerbate poverty among the fisher-folks owing to increased outflow of funds and reduced funds inflow. As a result of the non-triviality of the epidemic to Ghana’s fisheries, this work calls for the development of new institutional structures that make it plausible to integrate the issue of HIV/AIDS in managing Ghana’s fisheries. Finally, the study ascertains that the culture of risk denial does not extend to other dimensions of the lives of fisher-folks at Elmina. They are risk lovers owing to the risky, mobility and hard nature of their job. However, they are risk averse in terms of their social life style. Being risk averse, the study further argues that the fisher-folks at Elmina are highly likely to adopt a positive behavioral change. More so, it becomes easier to reach them with HIV/AIDS preventive measures. As Rosenstock (1974) - one of the health belief model proponents - asserts, people who see themselves to be at risk of contracting diseases are most often than not likely to accept a preventative action.
ForlagUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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