HIV infection rate shoot up

Ms Cecilia Dapaah (right) launching the programme

Ms Cecilia Dapaah (right) launching the programme

New Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infections across the country shot up to 19,101 as of end of 2017, slightly higher than 2016 figures of about 16,000, the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) has observed.

Out of the number, about 3,400 children were infected with the disease as prevalence among men who slept with their fellow men was at 18 per cent and female sex workers around seven per cent.

Acting Director General of the Commission, Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene, who made the disclosure at the launch of this year’s World AIDS Day celebrations in Accra yesterday indicated the need for increased efforts to reduce the prevalence “if we are to achieve the 90:90:90 targets by 2020.”

To him, the knowledge of one’s HIV status was critical to minimise infection in the country and help attain the 2020 target under the National HIV and AIDS strategic plan.

Mr Atuahene entreated Ghanaians to “know your status as persons who do not know their status have the potential to fuel new infections unawares, putting others around them at risk.”

The Executive Oversight of GAC and Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Cecilia Abena Dapaah, noted that efforts made so far in the fight against HIV/AIDS in terms of treatment and medication should inspire people to check to know their status.

“Available treatment offers an opportunity to lead a normal life if tested positive so people should be inspired to know their status,” she observed.

The Minister said government was in the process of finalising a treatment for all policy for HIV patients and working to operationalise a legislative instrument to advance a healthier and responsive environment for affected victims.

“The law will ensure that people who test positive for HIV are automatically eligible for treatment while criminalising issues of stigmatisation and discrimination against victims so that if you are caught, you are made to face the full rigours of the law,” she cautioned.

Touching on the continuous decline in donor support for HIV-related activities, Madam Dapaah expressed government’s commitment to hold the fort and invest heavily in the health sector to promote the well being of citizens.

She urged private organisations and philanthropists to support national efforts at sustaining momentum in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the health sector on the whole.

The Vice President of the Ghana Journalists Association, Linda Asante Agyei, pledged the support of journalists in achieving the 2020 target of reducing HIV prevalence in the sub region and ending the epidemic completely by 2030 as stipulated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

She, however, called for increased knowledge in the field to keep journalists abreast of issues and enhance effective reportage.

This year’s World AIDS Day slated for December 1, is on the global theme, “Know your status.”

In Ghana, the occasion being marked on the theme, “Know your status; test, treat to suppress and stop new HIV infections,” calls for action on both infected and uninfected persons while offering hope to persons who may test positive for the disease.

Activities to mark the celebrations include media engagement, engagement with religious leaders, community-based HIV testings, advocacy sessions, anti-stigma campaigns and a healthfest, among others.

A grand durbar will be held on December 1, at Ho in the Volta Region with regional level celebrations to climax the day.

By Abigail Annoh

 

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