New HIV infections in Ghana have recorded an alarming 70.15% increase in just one year.
The figure increased from 12,000 new infections in 2015 to 20,418 in 2016.
The increase in new infections is a matter of concern because Ghana recorded significant gains in the key target areas of ending HIV/AIDS for five years.
New infections drop 30% between 2009 and 2014.
Between 2009 and 2014, the country recorded a 30 per cent reduction in new HIV infections and a 43 per cent reduction in AIDS-related deaths.
15,116 Died from HIV and AIDS-related illness in 2016.
A Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) report also revealed that in 2016, a total of 15,116 people in Ghana died of HIV and AIDS-related illness.
12,585 Adults died of AIDS in 2016
Out of the total AIDS-related deaths, 12,585, representing 83 per cent, were adults.
2,531 Children under 14 years died of AIDS
Similarly, 2,531 AIDS-related deaths, representing 17 per cent, were children under 14 years.
293,804 People are living with HIV
Again, an estimated 293,804 people are living with HIV (PLHIV) in Ghana.
261,770 Adults living with HIV
According to the data, of those living with HIV, 261,770, representing 89 per cent, are adults?
32,034 Children living with HIV.
In the same vein, 32,034, representing 11 per cent, of those living with the virus are children.
Among the PLHIV, 115.244, representing 39 per cent, are males and 178,560 (61 per cent) are females.
According to the report, the Volta and Brong Ahafo regions recorded the highest prevalence rate of 2.7 per cent for 2016, which is above the national HIV prevalence of 2.4 per cent.
The Northern Region registered the lowest prevalence rate, recording 0.7 per cent prevalence rate.
Figures for other regions
The prevalence rates for the other regions are: Eastern – 2.6 per cent, Ashanti – 2.6 per cent, Western – 2.5 per cent, Upper West – 2.5 per cent, Greater Accra – 2.4 per cent, Central – 1.8 per cent, and Upper East – 1.7 per cent.
HIV prevalence was higher in urban areas, hitting 2.5 per cent, compared to 1.9 per cent for rural areas.
HIV among pregnant women increase
The National AIDS Control Programme said the report shows an increase in the prevalence rate among pregnant women, representing a second consecutive time of rising incidence among Ghanaian pregnant women.
Two consecutive upsurges
According to the report, the HIV prevalence for 2016 of 2.4 per cent represents a second consecutive upsurge from the 2014 prevalence of 1.6 per cent and 1.8 per cent in 2015.
HIV prevalence among ages 45-49 highest
It revealed that HIV prevalence by age group 45-49 is highest at 5.6 per cent, followed by 35-39, with 15-19 being the lowest at 0.6 per cent.
Agormanya, Sunyani top urban sites
The highest prevalence within urban sites was 4.2 per cent in Agormanya in the Eastern Region and Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region, with Wa in the Upper West Region with 3.7 per cent.
Rural prevalence highest at Fanteakwa
Rural prevalence ranged from 0.5 per cent in Builsa in the Upper East Region, Kintampo in the Brong Ahafo Region and Salaga in the Northern Region to 3.3 per cent in Fanteakwa in the Eastern Region.
Types of HIV recorded in 2016
According to the report, the proportion of HIV subtype 1 is 98.5 per cent compared to 1.5 per cent for dual HIV type 1 and 2 infections while there was no HIV type 2 infection.
It said median syphilis prevalence for 2016 is 0.2 per cent and the regional syphilis infections ranged from zero in the Brong Ahafo and Upper East regions to 0.8 per cent in the Central Region.
The HIV Sentinel Survey is a cross-sectional survey targeting pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in selected areas in the country.
In the last 11 years, health officials say, the HIV Sentinel Survey data have been used as the primary data source for the national HIV and AIDS estimates.
Director-General of the GAC, Dr Mokowa Blay Adu-Gyamfi told journalists in Accra that the increase in new infections is a call for concern.
The commission has admitted that the preventive education had not been done effectively these days.
“These days, people see me and ask, ‘So is this HIV still in existence’.
And so I think we shouldn’t rest on our oars,” she observed.
She announced that the strategic objectives of GAC for the year 2018 are to ensure the availability of funding for all relevant HIV programmes, review and formulate policies towards epidemic control.
Dr Adu-Gyamfi 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 Sexually Transmitted Diseases (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.
According to Dr Adu-Gyamfi, “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”.
She noted that the commission and its 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 findings 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.
The meeting, aimed to chart the way forward in the fight of the 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.
Source: The Finder Newspaper