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17.01.2006 General News

Mrs Bush visits AIDS patients at Korle Bu


Accra, Jan 17, GNA - The First Lady of the US, Mrs Laura Bush, on Tuesday visited the Fevers Unit at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital where HIV/AIDS patients are on admission.

She was accompanied by Major Courage Quashigah (RTD), the Minister of Health and Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs, and taken round by Dr Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, the Chief Executive of the hospital.

Mrs Bush's daughter, Barbara, was also with her. Mrs Bush visited the female ward and interacted with the patients. She also interacted with Caregivers, who are relatives or friends of the patients.

Currently, Mrs Bush is actively involved in issues of national and global concern, with a particular emphasis on education, health care and human rights. She is also involved in women's health and wellness. In March 1986, the first case of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) was reported in Ghana.

In January 1991, a more detailed report on AIDS in Ghana appeared in which 107 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive cases were said to have been recorded in 1987.

A total of 333 people were identified as HIV positive by the end of March 1988 and there was a further increase to 2,744 by the end of April 1990.

Of the April 1990 number, 1,226 were reported to have contracted AIDS. According to WHO annual reports, the virus continued to spread in the country.

During 1991 the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi reported about 50 AIDS cases each month.

HIV and AIDS is a serious problem in Ghana, but it is far worse in other sub-Saharan countries like South Africa and Botswana. But even so, UNAIDS noted that Ghana had 350,000 people living with HIV and 30,000 deaths in 2003.

Ghana's HIV infection rate has dropped for the first time in five years, and is now down countrywide to 3.1 per cent from 3.6 per cent in 2003, according to a sentinel survey released in April 2005. It's not conclusive proof of an overall decline, but the findings at least suggest that the epidemic is slowing down.

"We need a consistent fall over three years," said Nii Akwei Addo, programme manager of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP). Meanwhile, the Government of Ghana has committed to scaling up HIV treatment and will use the 15 million dollars given over two years for the distribution of Anti Retroviral drugs (ARVs).