Over 100,000 people living with HIV unaware of their status

Ghana recorded a reduction in new infections and related death cases of AIDS by 26 per cent and 38 per cent respectively between 2017 and 2021.

This, according to the Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), Dr Kyeremeh Atuahene, was as a result of the resources, expertise and commitment invested towards the fight against the disease over the past years.

Dr Atuahene was speaking at the launch of the 5th edition of the National HIV and AIDS Research Conference (NHARCON) in Accra yesterday which would come on in April next year.

The Conference, which is a flagship programme of GAC, and organised every four years is aimed at providing a platform for the sharing of ideas in support of the implementation of the current National Strategic Plan 2021 to 2025.

It also formed part of GAC mandate to disseminate and share HIV and AIDS strategic information with its stakeholders and partners in the implementation of the National Response.

The Director General further asserted that despite the reduction recorded, GAC faced challenges as over 100,000 individuals in the country lived with HIV without knowing their status.

This, he said, had a potential of preventing the GAC’s aim of achieving its goal of 95 per cent status knowledge, 95 per cent in the administration of anti-retroviral drugs and 95 per cent in viral suppression.

He noted that misconception about the virus accounted for the low knowledge of status among individuals in the country and therefore encouraged individuals to go for testing as it was free.

The Programmes Manager for the National AIDS Control Programme, Dr Stephen Ayisi Addo, stressed on the need for key stakeholders in the health sector to make use of data and information for policy formation and interventions.

“We need to do everything possible to make use of information and data. It is because of the lack of it that when you come out with some data, people are reacting,” he said.

Dr Addo added that “despite the fact that we are able to identify the threat in some areas, we have not invested in resources in those areas.”

The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, launching the Conference lauded the GAC and other health professionals for their fight against the disease.

He noted that the outbreak of COVID-19 had overshadowed the raging effect caused by HIV and AIDS and other diseases.

The minister, therefore, called for support from the public as the country continued to aim at eradicating the disease by 2030.

In attendance at the launch were representatives from government and development partners such as the World Health Organisations (WHO) and the Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention, President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Others include the National Tuberculosis Programme, United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Network of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS.