The National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), has advised Ghanaians, particularly men to know their HIV and AIDS status for early and effective treatment.
Reverend Kenneth Ayeh Danso, the NACP Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, said this was because many men reported late to health facilities at advanced stages of the disease.
He said knowing one’s status was important for early initiation of treatment.
Rev Danso gave the advice at a stakeholder training workshop organized by the Ghana HIV and AIDS Network on epidemic control in Accra.
It was on the theme “Rethinking HIV Interventions for Vulnerable Population in the country”.
He stated that a 2021 data estimated that a total of 345,599 persons lived with HIV and AIDS in the country.
As of June 2022, a total of 262,042 persons were on the Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). That figure is made up of five per cent of children and 75 per cent females. The statistics is an indication that men are not reporting, a situation that needs to be reversed to be able to reach the 95-95-95 goals.
The purpose of the workshop was to reflect on current HIV programming with the aim of reviewing strategies, activities, and actors in the face of changing context.
Mr Ernest Ortsin, President GHANET, noted that per the number of children who were on ART, it was a clear indication that as high as 13, 000 pregnant women are not on ART.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), for countries to be able to end mother to child transmission, that country should be doing less than five per cent.
“If you have 100 women who are HIV giving birth less than five per cent of the children should be infected, but as a country we are doing between 18 to 20 per cent which is extremely high.
“What this means is that out of every 100 women who are HIV positive giving birth we have as much as 20 per cent being positive and this is not good and will not be able to end HIV,” Mr Ortsin said.
He called for behavioural change among young people and advised against unprotected sex.
Mr Ortsin said to control the disease, there was the need to create an environment for people who are HIV positive to access medications freely without the fear of stigma and discrimination.
“One of the challenges we have discovered is people staying out of treatment at some point because taking drugs every day is not an easy thing and I encourage HIV patients not to feel tired of the ART drugs as it would help suppress viral load to enable them to live longer,” he advised.
Dr Sebastian Sandaare, Member of Parliament for Daffiama, Bussie, and ISSA Constituency and Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, commended GHANET for its initiative.
He urged Ghanaians to go for the test, know their status, and seek initial treatment
Participants at the workshop included the police, the prisons service, faith-based organizations, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), lawyers, traditional leaders, and parliamentarians.
The workshop was supported by PEPFAR, USAID, EpiC and Civil Society Institute for HIV and Health.