Health News of Thursday, 12 September 2013
Source: Daily Graphic
The 2013 National HIV and AIDS Research Conference (NHARCON) to assess the current HIV situation in the country has opened in Accra.
The four-day conference which is on the theme: “Utilising Strategic Information for an Effective National Response”, is organised by the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), in collaboration with its partners.
Participants in the conference would also use the platform to evaluate recent scientific developments, lessons learnt and discuss ways to improve the national HIV and AIDS response.
Background to the conference
Ghana is one of the five countries in sub-Saharan Africa whose HIV prevalence declined by more than 52 per cent between 2001 and 2010 among young people aged between 15-24, according to a UNAIDS 2011 report. The national HIV prevalence declined from 3.6 per cent in 2003 to 1.3 per cent in 2013. Prevalence among sex workers had reduced from 35 per cent in 2006 to 11 per cent in 2011.
HIV infection estimates currently show that in 2012, 235,982 persons were living with HIV, with 27,734 being children. An estimated 7,138 new infections were recorded as well as 11,655 AIDS deaths and 852 new child infections in the same year.
In the area of treatment, there had been an increase in Persons living with HIV, who received anti-retroviral medicines to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV from 50 per cent coverage in 2011 to 70 per cent in 2012.
Director-General of GAC
Speaking at the opening ceremony last Tuesday, the Director-General of GAC, Dr Angela El-Adas, said the country’s quest to reach zero new infections, zero AIDS related deaths and zero discrimination by 2015, was attainable.
“Unfortunately, we will experience a reversal of the current trends if we do not keep HIV high on our national development agenda,” Dr El-Adas cautioned.
She, therefore, called for accelerated national efforts to tackle the difficult areas of the pandemic.
The United Nations AIDS Country Co-ordinator, Mr Girmay Haile, commended the country for having made progress in reducing the incidence of HIV infections, discrimination and AIDS-related deaths.
In his address, the Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission, Mr Paul Victor Obeng, commended the commission and its stakeholders for the success story achieved.
He noted that the country had not only made progress in the prevalence indicator but also in the area of treatment and prevention interventions.
The Minister of Health, Ms Sherry Ayittey, encouraged the exploration of traditional herbal medicines in the search for interventions in HIV and AIDS.