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02.06.2004 Crime & Punishment

National HIV prevalence rate now stands at 3.6%

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Kuntanase (Ash), June 2, GNA - The national HIV prevalence rate as at the end of last year stood at 3.6 per cent, Mr Michael Boamey, Ashanti Regional Co-ordinator of HIV/AIDS has stated. The figure, he said showed a rise of 0.2 per cent over the 2002 figure of 3.4 per cent.
Addressing a six-day counselling workshop on HIV/AIDS at Kuntanase in the Bosomtwe Atwima-Kwanwoma district on Monday, he said the Eastern region still maintained its high prevalence rate of 6.1 per cent against its 2002 figure of 7.9 per cent.
The Central region followed with 5.4 per cent as against the 2.6 per cent figure of 2002 and Ashanti region followed at the third position with a prevalence rate of 4.7 per cent as against the 2002 figure of 4.2 per cent.
The workshop was attended by 15 community counsellors with sponsorship from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and was aimed at scaling up care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Mr Boamey said screening at the prevalence sites range from 0.6 per cent at Nalerigu in the Northern region to 9.2 per cent at Agomenya in the Eastern region and that, five sites had exceeded five per cent level.
He named the sites as Agomenya with 9.2 per cent, Cape Coast 7.6 per cent, Fanteakwa 6.6 per cent, Eikwe 6.1 per cent, Asante-Mampong 5.4 per cent, Wenchi 5.4 per cent, Adabraka 5.2 per cent and Kumasi 5.0 per cent.
Mr Boamey said the menace, which has now become a national canker could affect or infect anybody irrespective of class or social standing and therefore urged all to protect themselves by refraining from casual and unprotected sex.
In an address read on his behalf, Mr Bright Addai Mununkum, the District Chief Executive said the focus on the disease was not being shifted from education to behavioural change, discrimination and stigmatisation, counselling and support for PLWHA.
He therefore entreated the volunteer-counsellors to keep information on the disease very confidential to enable people to have confidence in them and offer themselves for voluntary testing and counselling.