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07.09.2004 General News

Ghana chalks success in HIV/AIDS fight

By Chronicle
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WITH THE current prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS infections in the country standing at 3. 6% from an initial rate of 2. 9% twenty years ago, when the infection was first reported, Ghana had made remarkable success in combating the pandemic. Within two decades of strenuous combat against the menace, only 0. 7% new infections had been recorded nationwide with 0. 2% recorded two years ago.

During an introduction of the “League Of HIV/AIDS Reporters” (LOHAR), to the Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, (GAC) at his office in Accra, recently, Prof. S.A. Amoah remarked that with a low rate of 0.7% new infections recorded for 20 years in the life of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country is an outstanding achievement, considering the astronomically high prevalence rates recorded by other African countries.

“This means that the National Response had been very remarkable,” the Director General noted.

Statistics show that the prevalence rate had been very significant following constant improvement in the fight against the pandemic that had rocked much of the African work force over the past two decades.

In 1986, Ghana recorded a prevalence rate of 2.9%. This rate dropped to 2.6% in 1999 and had an increment of 1.0% to settle at 3.6% in 2001. In the year 2004, the prevalence rate declined by 0.2% to make 3.4%, however, it shot up again in by 0.2%, increasing the prevalence rate to 3.6% currently, with the Northern region recording the lowest average rate of 2.1%, whiles the Eastern region recorded the highest average of 6.1%.

According to Prof. Amoah, the campaign against the HIV/AIDS pandemic had gone down well with the Ghanaian populace, therefore enhancing their behavioural change towards the epidemic.

He noted that if people's behaviours had not change for the better, for the twenty years of the existence of the menace in the country, the prevalence rate would have shot up astronomically toplace Ghana at par with other African countries.

The Director General had, therefore, commended the media in sensitizing the devastating effects of the menace among the Ghanaian populace in arriving at its achievements so far.

Current records show that Agomenya, in the Eastern Region, is high up on the prevalence rate table with 9.2% and Nalerigu in the Upper East Region at a rate as low as 0.6%.

The rest of the areas in the prevalence rate table include Cape Coast; 7.6%, Fanteakwa; 6.6% Eikwe; 6.1%, Adabraka 7th on the table with 5.0%, Kumasi; 5.2%, Hohoe; 4.2%, Obuasi; 3.7%, Tamale; 3.6%, Tema; 3.4%, Bawku; 3.2%, Wa 3.2%, Bolgatanga; 3.0%, Koforidua; 2.6%, North Tongu; 2.0%, Ho; 2.0% and Nadowli;1.3% among others.

Reports indicate that majority of people infected with the virus are between the ages of 15 and 45 years.

Records indicate that, in 1999, the prevalence rate among commercial sex workers in Tema, in the Greater Accra region was 78.5% and 82% in Kumasi in the Ashanti region.

Recent statistics emanating as a result of the HIV/AIDS infection in the African sub-region, has rather assumed a serious destructive nature as many institutions risk losing 50% of their current workforce to the scourge, over the next 5 to 10 years.

Records had it that 10 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years and almost 3 million children under the age of 15years are currently living with the disease throughout the African sub-region ever since the epidemic emerged some two decades ago.

AIDS had afflicted about 42 million people worldwide, 29.4 million of who live in Africa and about 500,000 adult Ghanaians are infected with the deadly virus.

Prof. Amoah said the antiretroviral drugs administered on HIV/AIDS patients, which took off December last year by the Ministry of Health at a subsidized fee of ¢50,000 per treatment for a month at selected areas, from the required treatment fee of US$600 per month, had succeeded in providing 1,300 patients with the drugs out of the total of 72,000 patients, who must go on the drug.

Additionally, the Director General observed that the number of patients undergoing treatment would be increased to 2000 by the end of the year.

According to him, the country needed not less than US$90million to put the estimated number of 72,000 HIV/AIDS patients on the antiretroviral drug and it had applied for financial assistance from the Global Fund.

Prof. Amoah held that the adherence of the drug was at a rate of 90% in the country and by the year 2005, the treatment would be extended to all 10 regions of the country.

Experts estimated that only 5% of the 30 million people in poor countries who required treatment for HIV infection were receiving it.