Couple’s refusal to disclose HIV status increasing rate in Ghana — AIDS Commission

  Mon, 24 Jun 2024
Health Couple’s refusal to disclose HIV status increasing rate in Ghana — AIDS Commission

Ghana AIDS Commission has identified the lack of HIV status disclosure among couples as a key contributor to the country's rising HIV infection rates.

Director General of the Commission, Dr. Kyeremeh Atuahene, highlighted this issue along with the discontinuation of medication by some HIV-positive individuals as critical factors driving the increase in infections.

“The fear of the husband or wife deserting them leads some not to disclose their status. Some are afraid their spouse may discover they are taking daily medication, leading them to hide or discontinue their medicines,” Dr. Atuahene explained.

He emphasised that women are disproportionately more susceptible to HIV infection than men and urged them to take proactive measures to protect themselves from contracting the virus.

“Women must be aware that they are more vulnerable and therefore they should protect themselves. The transmission rate from woman to man is just about 2% whereas it is more than 12% for a man. That is why women should not gamble with their health and their lives by just accepting that ‘if he will give them more money to have sex without a condom it’s okay for me.’ It shouldn’t be okay for you, especially when you might have an untreated sexually transmitted disease that can also heighten the chance of you getting HIV,” he urged.

Dr. Atuahene elaborated on the biological factors contributing to women's increased vulnerability to HIV.

“The mucous membrane lining the vagina is significantly more delicate and susceptible to irritation than its male counterpart, making women more prone to HIV infection due to the increased fragility of their genital tract tissue. When a female has sex with a man, penile sex and the man ejaculates, the sperm which might contain HIV particles may remain in her for quite some time, whereas that of the male you hardly can see that. Secondly, the surface area of the vagina is much wider than that of the male and thirdly the mucus membrane of the vagina is much more fragile than of the male.”

The Commission reported that in 2023, an estimated 334,095 people in Ghana were living with HIV, comprising 115,891 males and 218,204 females. The breakdown of demographics includes:

Children under 14: 17,550
Adolescents (10-19): 16,381
Young adults (15-24): 33,245
Adults (15 and older): 316,545
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