Accra, Jan 24, GNA - Persons who have had illicit sexual relations in the last 10 years stand a great risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS, Professor Amoah Sakyi, Director General of Ghana AIDS Commission said on Monday. He said it was unfortunate that a lot of people gad about claiming that they are safe yet they have not undergone any test to determine their status.
Speaking at the opening of a one-week workshop in Accra, Prof. Sakyi called on individuals particularly the youth to desist from exposing themselves to precarious environments that would pre-dispose them to HIV/AIDS.
The workshop, which is being attended by 56 participants, drawn from the ten regions, is aimed at training HIV/AIDS field officers to collect data on the pandemic.
The trainees, after the session, would be sent to the regions to collect data that would be used to determine how socio-cultural factors had affected the current upsurge of the HIV/AIDS in the country. Prof. Sakyi noted that there is an increase in the prevalent rate of the disease, making it imperative to collate accurate and realistic data that would help redirect advocacy with the view to finding a solution to its spread.
In the past three years HID/AIDS prevalent rate has increased from 2.6 per cent in 1999 to 3.6 per cent 2003, representing 50 per cent increase.
Prof Sakyi said 720 people are infected by the HIV virus each day, adding that eight major cities in the Central, Ashanti, Accra, Upper West and Eastern regions had recorded the highest rate of infection. "The upsurge in these areas are mainly due to high incidence of poverty, rising commercial sex activities, over dependence of women on men and migration."
He said the problem had been exacerbated due to a denial syndrome by some sceptics who paraded about with beliefs like "All die be die, you don't take toffee with its wrapper".
Prof. Sakyi noted that such behaviour patterns was mainly exhibited by the youth who unfortunately form the greater proportion of those infected.
This young people are now strong, energetic and carrying the virus and would only show signs in the next 10 or 15 years.