Ghana must protect adolescent girls against HIV – Ayisi Addo

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Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo, Programme Manager for the National AIDS\STI Control Program, has called for the protection of adolescents especially females against the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), as statistics show that many of them are contracting it.

Dr. Ayisi Addo said the 2020 HIV and AIDS Estimates and Projections report revealed that there were 5,200 new infections among children out of the about 19,000 in the general population out of which majority were females– 82 per cent.

Speaking at the Ghana News Agency’s – Tema Stakeholder Engagement and Workers’ Appreciation Day seminar, he added that a lot of pregnancies were also seen among adolescents aged 15 to 19.

He said it meant that a number of adolescents were exposed to contracting the HIV as having unprotected sex, which was the channel for getting pregnant, was also the major means to contracting the virus.

Dr Ayisi Addo added that out of the estimated 346,120 People Living With HIV in Ghana as at the end of 2020, 66 per cent were females with eight per cent being children from the ages of zero to 14 years.

He stressed that: “We need to protect the adolescent’ females and the young ones to be able to secure our lives as a country as they are our future. These young ones are yet to grow and find their would-be partners so it is better to protect them now than to allow them get infected at this early stage”.

Dr. Ayisi Addo therefore called for a concerted effort by all stakeholders such as the Ghana Health Service, Ghana Education Service, and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to reinforce interventions to empower both the in-school and out-school adolescents to make informed choices.

He said the adolescent girls must be educated and empowered to be less vulnerable and report cases of defilement while the law enforcers must prosecute those who abuse children and adolescents.

He said comprehensive education on sexual issues must be considered as a proactive measure to teach the younger ones how to abstain.

He said such education would also expose the girls to how to protect themselves if they could not abstain, saying the use of emergency contraceptives even though protective against pregnancies does not shield them from contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Dr Ayisi Addo therefore commended the Ghana News Agency Tema Regional Office for instituting consistent engagement platform for public education; “the public needs education, our manpower cannot reach out to the entire country at the same time, therefore with GNA, every media outlet across the nation gets the information.

He also acknowledged the other media outlets who were also championing public education and other programmes to sensitize the public especially on the issue of HIV and AIDS.

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