INFECTION RATE of the deadly HIV/AIDS in the Ashanti Region has relatively increased this year, compared to recorded cases in 2006, medical experts have announced in Kumasi.
A total of 1,181 AIDS cases, involving 560 females and 531 males, were recorded between January and September this year at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), as against 1,744 cases, comprising 1,016 females and 650 males in 2006.
Of the number recorded this year, 1,804 tested positive (1,137 women and 667 men) as against last year when 911 and 429 women and men respectively tested positive.
Presenting an overview of the HIV/AIDS situation to mark World AIDS Day at Asokore Manpong, near Kumasi, Dr. Kofi Asare, Ashanti Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service said the high rate of the disease in the region was one of the many reasons why people must go for Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT).
According to him, of the 1,181 people who tested positive this year, 211 were pregnant women.
Dr. Asare noted that all the HIV/AIDS positive pregnant women were being monitored closely at KATH, saying a number of measures had been put in place to encourage more people to go for the VCT.
A total of 53 Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMCT) and VCT centres, he added, had so far been created in the region as part of efforts to prevent further spread of the virus, contending that nine anti-retroviral therapy treatment centres had also been established in addition to that of KATH.
He condemned the discrimination and stigmatization attached to the disease, and called for a change in the way people regarded HIV/AIDS positive people.
Madam Patricia Appiagyei, Regional Metro Chief Executive, who also bemoaned the rate at which people living with the virus were discriminated against, said the celebration of the World AIDS Day was essential as it reminds each and every one about a disease that has the potential to derail the achievements of any economy.
She expressed worry about the region's prevalence rate which exceeds the national rate of 2.3 per cent. Kumasi, she stated, recorded 4.8 per cent in 2006 as against the 2.3 per cent national prevalence rate, and used the occasion to call for more support for the assembly to help in the fight against the deadly disease.
Mr. Osei Assibey Antwi, Deputy Ashanti Regional Minister appealed to traditional rulers, religious organizations and youth groups to continue to create more awareness about the disease.
Nana Boakye Ansah Debrah, Asokore Mamponghene, who chaired the function, maintained that traditional leaders, as part of efforts to support the control of the menace in the region, had developed measures to educate their subjects on the disease, saying they would not relent in their efforts.
From Stella Danso, Kumasi