Mr. Paul Evans Aidoo, the Western Regional Minister, has said having been infected with HIV was not the end of one’s life and thus, encouraged persons living with the virus to take the right medication in order to live normal life like any other person.
He said the government’s response to the HIV epidemic since its first discovery in the country in 1986, had been impressive with the national response strategy yielding great dividends.
Mr. Aidoo said this in a speech read on his behalf at the regional durbar held in the Shama District, in Shama, to mark this year’s World AIDS Day, on Thursday.
According to the Regional Minister, the prevalence rate in the Region had reduced from 2.4 percent to 2.0 percent last year, saying although the figure was higher than the national prevalence rate of 1.8 percent; however, it required concerted efforts from all well-meaning Ghanaian to curb the menace.
The day is marked worldwide on December 1 every year to raise awareness of the disease, its impact on infected persons and encourage them to seek treatment as well as avoid risky lifestyles and stigmatization.
The theme for this year’s campaign is: “Hands Up for the HIV Prevention” and is aimed at breathing new life into HIV prevention efforts globally, and inspired people to rethink HIV prevention for a new generation.
The theme chosen by the local organizers was: “90-90-90: Providing Comprehensive Integrated Services for All towards an HIV-free Generation”.
Mr Aidoo indicated that the annual HIV/AIDS-related deaths had reduced by 43 percent, achieved 50 percent reduction of HIV transmission from mother-to-child, with 81 percent of women now receiving prevention of mother-to-child transmission services.
He said it has been targeted that by 2020, at least 90 percent of all persons infected with HIV would have been tested and know their status.
And those tested positive of the virus would have been put on antiretroviral treatment and achieve 90 percent viral suppression, he added.
The Regional Minister said 66 percent of infected pregnant women received treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission.
“The national HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan (2016-2020) is a reflection of the nation’s aspiration for the HIV/AIDS response over the next five years and contains strategies designed to fast-track the country’s efforts to end AIDS by 2030,”he pointed out.
According to him, the document was in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in ensuring healthy lives and promoting the wellbeing for all persons at all ages.
Mr Aidoo gave the assurance that the Government was committed to funding the National Strategic Plan to ensure commodity security and adequate resourcing of the Health Ministry and health workers to enable them to render first-class services to all persons living with HIV.
Touching on the December 7 Elections, Mr. Aidoo, charged the political parties and all other interest groups to avoid any act of violence but rather comply with the rules and regulations governing the elections to avoid a “brush with the law”.
The Regional Coordinator for the Ghana AIDS Commission, Mr. Kwame Oppong-Ntim, said this year’s celebration was unique because it marked the first year when Ghana and the global community signed on the 90-90-90 targets to be attained in 2020 towards ending AIDS in 2030.
He said everyone screened for HIV would be given the opportunity to also screen for tuberculosis, hepatitis, cancers and family planning as well as ensuring that pregnancy and childbirths needs engage the attention of the Commission.
The event brought together traditional rulers, heads of department, civil society organizations and the media.
A sketch was performed by some pupils to emphasise the need to prevent risky lifestyles that would endanger them.