Ghana marks World AIDS Day in Accra

This year’s World AIDS Day was yesterday celebrated in Accra with a call on Ghanaians to end the inequality fuelled by AIDS and other pandemics.

The day, commemorated every December 1, is to remember the millions of lives lost to AIDS with the first case of the disease identified in 1981.

This year’s event was held under the theme: “End Inequalities. End Aids. End Pandemic”.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Speaking virtual at the event in Accra yesterday said, ending Aids and achieving epidemic control were the goals of the National HIV/AIDs strategic plan 2021 to 2025.

He said the plan could be achieved by reaching the 95-95-95 fast track testing and treatment strategy which required that by 2025, 95 per cent of all persons living with HIV in the country must be diagnosed, 95 per cent of the people diagnosed must be placed on antiretroviral treatment and 95 per cent of people on antiretroviral treatment be virally suppressed.

According to the President, 95 per cent of the people diagnosed must be placed on antiretroviral treatment.

“Eswatini and Switzerland are achieving this goal, many African counties are on track to achieve this.For Ghana to join these countries, the national strategic plans seeks to reduce new effects by 85% as well as eliminate mother-to-child infections. The strategy ensures that prevention, testing and treatment are given as a comprehensive package,” he added.

The president expressed worry that adolescent girls and young women account for 28 percent of total HIV new infections in the country.

“For us to end this, we must eliminate inequalities and discrimination in every form of its manifestation such as domestic and gender-based violence, harmful practices like widowhood rights and child marriages. Promotion of girl child education is an integral part of reducing gender inequality because studies show that girls going to school reduce new HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women by 15 per cent,” he stated.

The president stated that government was aware of the funding gap of HIV/AIDs and expressed government’s commitment to increasing domestic funding for HIV response.

The Director General of Ghana Aids Commission (GAC), Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene, said the Number of HIV testing increased from 1,023,048 in 2016 to 1,837,149 in 2020, representing 80 per cent increase in the uptake of HIV testing.

Similarly, he said number of HIV-positive pregnant mothers receiving antiretroviral therapy to prevent mother to child transmission increased by 159 per cent while that of HIV population receiving antiretroviral therapy increased by more than 100 per cent during the same period.

“We have also seen 21 per cent decline in new HIV infections and 36 per cent reduction in AIDS related deaths in the last ten years”, he added.

However, he noted that the increasing uptake of services and steady declines in new infections and AIDS deaths were not significant enough to accelerate Ghana’s epidemic transition.

Representatives of the various partners in a solidarity message expressed their support and commitment in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country.

BY VIVIAN ARTHUR AND ISHMAEL BATOMA

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