Hike in HIV figures in Dormaa
Dormaa-Ahenkro (B/A), Aug. 22, GNA - Six out of every 100 persons tested at the Presbyterian Hospital in Dormaa Ahenkro in Brong Ahafo between January and June 2005 were HIV positive, as against five out of 100 tested the same period in 2004.
Available records at the Hospital have revealed that a total of 147 persons have out of their own volition visited the Hospital's Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre between April and June this year, to ascertain their HIV/AIDS status.
Mr William Saawil Sopiimeh, Brong-Ahafo Regional Health Educator and HIV/AIDS Co-ordinator, released the figures at a day's Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) and Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) community sensitisation durbar for 50 selected opinion leaders at Dormaa-Ahenkro.
He noted that HIV infection rates in the Dormaa and Wenchi districts were increasing steadily owing to the influx of visitors and traders from neighbouring countries.
Mr Sopiimeh announced that while the national rate of infection had dropped from 3.6 per cent to 3.1 per cent, the same could not be said of the situation in Brong-Ahafo even though groups and individuals had not relented in the fight against the spread of the pandemic.
Touching on the situation in the Region as a whole, the Regional Co-ordinator hinted that the first half of 2005 saw 884 reported HIV cases as compared to 873 within the same period in 2004, making the cumulative HIV/AIDS cases in the region total 11,743.
He said 331 HIV positive cases were detected in the Region between January and June this year when 6,823 blood donors were screened in various hospitals, representing 4.9 per cent as against 4.2 per cent from blood donors for the same period in 2004.
"In response to this rather alarming increase, campaign facilities in the Region are being encouraged to re-direct their focus on VCT to encourage as many people as possible to take steps to know their status and adopt decent life-styles", Mr. Sopiimeh noted.
He announced that six hospitals in the Region currently run VCT centres, where services were voluntary, strictly confidential and the dignity of clients always guaranteed.
They are the Regional Hospital in Sunyani, the Holy Family Hospital in Techiman, Methodist Hospital at Wenchi, Government Hospital at Sampa, Presbyterian Hospital at Dormaa Ahenkro and Government Hospital at Goaso.
Mr Sopiimeh said the centres had been stocked with Nevirapine, the drug that helps in preventing an HIV positive pregnant mother from passing the virus on to her unborn baby. He urged pregnant women to take advantage of the centres to ensure that those who might be HIV positive did not transfer the virus to their innocent babies.
The Reverend Mavis Hannah Yeboah, chaplain at the Presbyterian Hospital at Dormaa Ahenkro who spoke on the benefits of the PMTC noted that the transmission of the HIV virus could be minimized considerably if pregnant women and midwives exhibited commitment to the procedures in safe delivery.
She appealed to pregnant women who stayed far away from medical facilities not to wait until the eleventh hour before seeking the assistance of birth attendants.
"The VCT centres have the capacity to deal with matters relating to mother to child transmission of the HIV virus and can make their new-born babies HIV virus-free even where the mothers are tested positive", the chaplain added.