224 prisoners HIV positive

•   Ms. Matilda Baffour-Awuah  — Controller-General, Ghana Prison Service

• Ms. Matilda Baffour-Awuah — Controller-General, Ghana Prison Service

Two hundred and twenty -four inmates in the country’s prisons have tested positive of HIV/AIDS and currently on Anti-Retroviral Treatment.

All the prisons, except Navrongo Central and those in the Northern Region, have recorded cases of the pandemic.

Mr. Twumasi Ankrah, the Programme Officer of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), disclosed this at a national advocacy session with Regional Commanders of the Ghana Prison Service in Accra.

The forum discussed the Phase Two of the Global Fund Round 8 HIV and AIDS project, which ended last December.

Mr. Ankrah said the inmates had acquired the virus before their incarcerations, adding that 12,253 inmates were covered under the project.

The PPAG, in collaboration with the GPS, and the Prison Service, is implementing the HIV/AIDS programme,   with funding from the Global Fund, to improve the health status of the inmates.

The next round of the project, which would cover tuberculosis, is scheduled to take off by July 1 with the new funding mechanism of the Global Fund, estimated at 1.6 million dollars.

Mr. Ankrah disclosed that the project would cover all the 40 prisons across the country, including the Wa Central Prison which did not benefit from the Round 8 project.

He said the project’s major success was the willingness of the inmates to voluntarily subject themselves for testing and counselling and commended the prison officers for their co-operation which had contributed to the success.

In her presentation, Vera Abbey, the Programme Manager of PPAG, said another challenge encountered was the management of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) in the prisons.

She explained that the infirmaries of the various prisons lack drugs, and expressed the need for drugs to be made available to cater for the inmates.

She noted that 97.3 per cent of the inmates claimed they did not know they had the disease, and urged the authorities to take them through more education to erase some of their perceptions about the transmission of disease.

Throwing more light on the subsequent project, Albert Wuddah-Abbey, Director of Prorammes, PPAG, said a number of peer educators had been trained among the inmates, to, in turn, mobilise their colleagues to go for voluntary testing and counselling.

He said the Peer Educators had also been trained in the detection and referral of inmates suffering tuberculosis for further laboratory tests, before putting them on the Direct Observation Treatment regimen.

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman   

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