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Health News of Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Source: GNA

Ghana commemorates World AIDS Day

The Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) has launched this year’s World AIDS Day on the theme: “90-90-90: Providing comprehensive integrated services for all towards free an HIV-Free generation”.

The aim is to ensure that efforts are strengthened in the treatment of all persons who are infected with HIV, as well as addressing the needs of all others to prevent new infections.

The Day, set aside globally to remember those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS, was also a time for stock taking by nations or people affected by the epidemic on how well the level of response has made an impact, and the way forward.

Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, the Greater Accra Regional Minister, the Keynote speaker at the launch, said the theme for the event was appropriate giving the fact that 32 years ago Ghana diagnosed its first 42 cases of AIDS.

He said Ghana has begun her journey, with President John Dramani Mahama along with other World Leaders approving the UNAIDS Global Fast Track strategy towards achieving the 90-90-90 by the year 2020.

He said this means that by the stipulated year, 90 per cent of the population should know their HIV status, 90 per cent of those who test positive must be put on the treatment regime, while a 90 per cent viral load suppression must be achieved for those on treatment.

The Regional Minister said persistent stigma and discrimination, and the fact that the national HIV response was frequently beset with attitudinal and behavioural challenges, such as high-risk sexual behaviour among casual heterosexual populations, low condom use during high-risk and low uptake of HIV Testing Services, as well as funding gaps, has being a major setback to achieving full success.

He said stigma and discriminations of persons living with HIV, prevents others from going for testing to know their status, leading to a further spread of the disease among active populations such in the Greater Accra Region which currently has a surging prevalence rate from 3.1 per cent in 2014 to 3.2 per cent in 2015.

Nii Afotey Agbo said one of the prominent objectives of instituting the Day was to engender solidarity with persons living with HIV and AIDS, but regrettably the 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey showed that the percentage of adults with accepting attitudes towards these group of persons was not encouraging and that the country has not made much progress in the area since 2008.

“It is my conviction that with the implementation of the New Strategic Plan (NSP) 2016-2020 and the roll-out of the Ghana ‘Treat All’ policy, prospects of achieving an HIV-Free generation just got brighter”, he said.

Nii Afotey Agbo said an integral part of the drive towards the HIV-Free generation was the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) as well as effective interventions among key populations.

He said as a national policy, currently all pregnant women who go for antenatal care are offered test for HIV and those who test positive are enrolled on antiretroviral treatment to protect the mother and to minimise the possibility of transmitting the virus to their babies.

He urged the public especially pregnant women, to get tested for their HIV status in order to prevent mother-to-child Transmission of HIV and to keep mothers alive, while urging their husbands to also support their HIV positive pregnant wives to access and adhere to treatment”.

“This is the only way to prevent the life of the mother and to minimise the risk of transmission to the babies”, he said.

Dr Angela El-Adas, the Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, called for a renewed commitment by all stakeholders to achieve results through the agreed Fast Track strategies of testing, treatment and reducing the viral load of persons living with HIV to prevent AIDS related deaths.

As part of the event the GAC provided free health screening and testing services to members of the Ashalley Botwe Old Town community.