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17.02.2005 General News

Reported female AIDS infection increasing more than male

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Accra, Feb 17, GNA - HIV/AIDS reported cases was increasing more among female than their male counterparts, Mr Silas Quaye, Technical Surveillance Officer, World Health Organisation Ghana office said in Accra.

Over 10,000 cases of female AIDS infection, between 20 to 24 years had been reported as compared to 6,000 male cases, between 30 to 39 years through 2003, he said at a workshop to sensitise staff of the Ministry of Manpower and Youth Education (MMYE).

He said overall prevalence rate had increased from 2.4 per cent in 1994 to 3.6 per cent in 2003. Current AIDS estimated cases was about 200,000 with a daily record of 90 dead cases, 33,000 total dead cases and 132,000 orphans in 2004.

Mr. Quaye said women had been disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic in Ghana, adding that researchers and analysts had noted that in a more generalised epidemic more women than men typically get the infection.

He said data from the national AIDS Control Programme showed that almost two-thirds of the AIDS-reported cases were female, an indication that the disproportionate rate of HIV infection among females had been existing for a while.

He said women were affected because there was a link between the woman's inability to make choices in their sex lives.

He said the national strategic framework for the prevention aimed at establishing a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary institutional framework to coordinate programme implementation. He said the translation of high-level awareness to the desired behaviour change, misconception about the disease and stigmatisation were some of the challenges.

Sexual behaviour ranked among the hardest to change due to variety of factors including poverty, health care resources, unequal power dynamics, low self-esteem among marginalized and high risk groups such as commercial sex workers in addition to lack of information on reproductive health issues.

He said vaccines and microbicides to prevent HIV transmission were still in the developing stages and success in slowing the spread depended on behaviour change.

Mrs Patricia Agyepong, Deputy Director, Ministry of Manpower and Youth Employment urged workers to serve as agents of change to diffuse the message on the prevention at their workplaces and communities.

She said studies had shown that perceived risk of personal infection was slow among workers, that there was the general fear among workers of knowing their HIV status and sexual harassment and abuse was also said to be rife at the workplaces.

Mrs Francesca Atsuro, of the Maamobi Polyclinic advised the youth to delay sex until they were married and those already married to remain faithful to their partners.

She said HIV had an eight-year incubation period for the immune system to be compromised to show the signs and any one who tested negative would have to go in for a post negative test to be sure of the status.

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