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Health News of Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Source: GNA

New HIV infections averaged 21,000 from 2015 - 2020 - Aids Commission

Kyeremeh Atuahene,  Director-General of Ghana AIDS Commission Kyeremeh Atuahene, Director-General of Ghana AIDS Commission

Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene, Director-General of Ghana AIDS Commission says HIV is still an issue in the country as, over the last five years, HIV new infections averaged 21,000 each year.

He added that HIV new infections averaged 22,000 in 2016 but it reduced to almost 19,000 in 2020, explaining that 52 people got infected with HIV daily in Ghana.

“What that means for us is, we have to ask ourselves whether we are one of these 52 people today or are we going to be one of these 52 people tomorrow?” he asked.

Mr Atuahene told the GNA in an interview that in 2020 that about 120,000 people living with HIV did not know their HIV status and spread the virus unknowingly.

He advised that Ghanaians who think that HIV is no longer an issue to take the virus serious as the antiretroviral treatment was making people living with HIV not show emaciated bodies, making it difficult to identify those with the virus.

He said that it was possible to diagnose people living with HIV and made them become virally suppressed in order to eliminate AIDS and achieve epidemic control in the country.

He said it was the aim of the Commission to ensure that HIV was no longer a public health threat.

“We want to achieve the epidemic control and so we have to bring new infection to the barest minimum. People are still dying of AIDS when there should be no AIDS case in the country because of antiretroviral treatment but in 2020 alone there was almost 13,000 who people died of AIDS, making AIDS one of the 10 leading causes of death in Ghana.

“Everybody has to take responsibility for his own life because when we talk of HIV, it comes down to the individual’s responsibility.

"The causes are things that you choose. If you decide not to do any of the things that will expose you to HIV infection, you will never get it.

"HIV is real and it is with us and everybody has to protect him or herself”, he added.

Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene said that the HIV epidemic was well established in the general population to the extent that with or without key affected populations, the epidemic would remain and could grow in the country.
He said that the driving factor of the HIV epidemic was sexual intercourse since 80 percent of HIV transmission in Ghana through sexual contact.

Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene said that due to the strategies and programmes of the Ghana AIDS Commission in place, there had been a reduction in HIV new infections.

He said that HIV new infections in the last 5 years reduced by 14 percent and added that there was a dramatic reduction in new infections by 10 percent between 2019 and 2020, hoping that there would be a higher reduction between 2020 and 2021.

He said that AIDS death also reduced by 17 percent over the last 5 years even though the gains were not substantial enough to end AIDS and achieve epidemic control.

He said that the Ghana AIDS Commission intended to intensify its effort in prevention, especially, testing, treatment and care.

The Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission said would organise a Durbar where the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo would be the guest of honour as part of activities to observe World AIDS Day on the 1st of December.

Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene said that there also would be regional durbars across the country to commemorate World AIDS Day to create awareness about the havoc HIV was still causing in Ghana.