The HIV and AIDS prevalence rate in the country is creeping up gradually, a situation the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) says calls for concern. The Commission has admitted that the preventive education had not been done effectively these days.
“These day’s people see me and ask, so is this HIV still in existence. And so I think we shouldn’t rest on our oars,” Dr Mokowa Blay Adu-Gyamfi, Director General of the GAC said at a media briefing in Accra.
Meanwhile, a GAC document made available to the media at the end of a two-day annual strategic planning meeting has also revealed that new HIV infections in 2016 increased to 20, 418 from about 12,000 new infections recorded in 2015. Also a total of 15,116 people in Ghana died of HIV and AIDS-related illness in 2016, the National Spectrum has estimated.
Out of the total AIDS-related deaths, 12,585, representing 83 per cent were adults while 2,531 representing 17 per cent were children under 14 years. Again, an estimate of 293,804 people are living with HIV (PLHIV) while 261,770 (89 per cent) are adults and 32,034 (11 per cent) of the estimates being children.
Among the PLHIV, 115.244 (39 per cent) are males and 178,560 (61 per cent are females).
The meeting, aimed to chart the way forward in the fight of HIV epidemic in 2018, was attended by regional, district and national officers of the Commission, and chaired by Dr Adu-Gyamfi, who briefed the media on the outcomes of the meeting. She announced that the strategic objectives of GAC for the year 2018 were to ensure the availability of funding for all relevant HIV Programme, review and formulate policies towards epidemic control.
She said all those could be achieved through the implementation of the provision of the GAC ACT 938, especially the HIV and AIDS Fund and its effective management. She also said, there would be a revision of the current National HIV and AIDS and STI Policy to reflect the country’s needs and current global trends.
There would also be a continuation of the implementation of recent policies and programmes of the national response to the epidemic, adopted by the nation, such as the 90-90-90- Fast Track Target, the Treat All Policy, and the Differentiated Models of Care. “All these are expected to spur the nation on, in its efforts to achieve the National Strategic Plan 2016-2020 targets of reducing new infections and AIDS-related deaths”, Dr Adu-Gyamfi said.
She noted that, the Commission and it partners would step up programmes to help prevent HIV infection through education and Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission and Early Infant Diagnosis, and link up those infected to care and treatment. The Commission would also widen access to HIV treatment through the training of lay counsellors, reduce stigma and discrimination against PLHIV and those affected by HIV through advocacy, while strengthening the implementation of Task sharing guidelines with emphasis on community level actors.
Dr Adu-Gyamfi announced that the National HIV and AIDS Research Conference would be held in May 2018 to provide a platform for sharing knowledge and smart practices in HIV research and programmes as well as disseminate finding from relevant HIV and AIDS research.
She urged the media, especially, and all partners to support the Commission to achieve its set targets for the general good of the country.