GAC worried about decline in anti-retroviral intake

The Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) has expressed worry about the decline in the intake of anti-retroviral drugs, and urged people suffering from HIV to take their medication seriously.

The GAC said this could help people living with HIV live their normal life span,and the disease would cease to be a public health issue.

The Director of GAC, Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene,in an exclusive interview with the Ghanaian Times, in Accra, said continuous intake of the anti-retroviral drugs could help suppress the virus.

He said: “If we are to achieve this, everyone must work to reduce infections especially those who do not have HIV and those who do have must continue to take their anti-retroviral drugs and ensure proper living style because treatment is for life once you have the virus”.

Mr Atuahene noted that some people on HIV medication switched to herbal treatment, adhered to false claim of cure and went to prayer camps.

He said some died without knowing they had the disease, “because they would not go to hospital, but go to pharmacies and buy pain killers and when the situation aggravatesthey now go to hospital”.

Mr Atuahene said more than 12,700 people died of AIDS related illnesses in 2020, “which should not be so because there are anti-retroviral medicines available for them. Our objective is to have zero infections, zero AIDS deaths and zero stigma”.

He stressed that “at the end of 2020, it was estimated that, more than 346,000 people lived with HIV in Ghana and almost 280,000 of them were females, the rest were males”.

Mr Atuahene noted that at least 500 health facilities have anti-retroviral drugs, which were free, adding that “measures have been put in place to bring the medicine to the door steps of patients.”

Mr Atuahene said GAC has increased community base dispensers of anti-retroviral to make it easier for people to acquire the drugs.

He said 80 per cent of people contracted HIV through sexual intercourse; 15 per cent through vertical transmission, thus mother to child and five percent; through the exchange or the use of contaminated blood, body objects such as blade, needle,pins,manicure,and pedicure.

“These days’ young guys go around doing manicure for people, the objects they use especially scissors and blades are mostly not sterilised and these objects are used from one person to the other so the spread of disease is high,” he said.

Mr Atuahene said “HIV is not something you acquire involuntarily, but you make a decision to get it that is when you are careless and you do not take the proper precautions, so people must reduce their risk in order to reduce new infections so far as sexual intercourse is concerned,” he said.

BY AGNES OPOKU SARPONG

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