The Ghana Aids Commission (GAC) has advised the public to continue to get tested to know their Human Iimmunodeficiency Virus (HIV) status to enable them to take the necessary precautionary measures against the virus.
“Everybody should get tested and know your HIV status; if you are positive, you go for, and adhere to your medication and if you are negative you take preventive measures not to be infected,” Mr. Yakubu Dramani, the Upper West Regional Technical Coordinator of the GAC, said.
He said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Wa.
The interview was in relation to the information released by the National Aids Control Programme (NACP), which suggested an increase in new HIV infections in the country.
According to the data from the NACP, out of a total of 948,094 people who tested for HIV from January to June 2022, 23,495 representing about 2 per cent tested positive for the virus.
Mr. Dramani, however, observed that the figure may not be entirely new infection as some people who had tested positive previously and known their HIV status might have gone back to test within the period but did not dispute the fact that new infections were on the rise against the GAC’s target of reducing it.
“What this tells us is that the newly infected people are still going up and the only way we can suppress and conquer this pandemic is to reduce the new infections; when the new infections are still going up it means we still have much work to do,” he explained.
The GAC Technical Coordinator stated that the target was to reduce new HIV infections by about 80 per cent by the year 2020 but it seemed to be increasing astronomically.
He said available data indicated that the HIV prevalence rate in the country stood at 1.68 per cent with about 346,120 people estimated to be living with HIV.
He indicated that the data also pegged new HIV infections at 18,928 saying, “The most concerning thing is that young adults are becoming a vulnerable group.”
“More than 5,211 of the new infections are aged between 15 to 24 years and about 83 per cent of those newly infected in this age group are females.
“The likelihood of the young females spreading it is more because they are younger, they meet more people, and as we know, it spreads more through unprotected sex, and they may have more sex partners than the adult group over their lifetime,” he explained.
Talking about the Upper West Region, Mr. Dramani said the prevalence rate in the region with the current data was 1.1 per cent, with an estimated 5,725 people living with the disease.
He advised the public not to be complacent and to take precautionary measures seriously and appealed to the public not to stigmatize persons living with HIV, but to rather support and encourage them to go for medication to attain viral suppression.
“Our own discriminatory, stigmatizing attitude contributes hugely to the high new infections because the people are afraid to go for medications and keep spreading the virus,” he observed.
Mr. Dramani also advised people living with HIV against relying on prayer camps and herbal medicines for cure, but they should rather adhere to the Anti-Retroviral Drugs.