The Ghana Aids Commission says although the figures about the rate of infection have not changed much, there is a need to intensify education among young people.
“The statistics are not different [from two years ago]. What is different is that we are seeing more and more infections among young people. And we need to tackle that,” said Acting Director of the Commission, Steve Kyeremeh Atuahene.
Ghana on Thursday launched a series of activities at the Information Services Department in Accra to mark World AIDS Day which is celebrated across the globe on December 1.
Thursday’s launch will be followed by a month-long media and community-related activities to sensitise the public about HIV/AIDS and encourage Ghanaians to adopt preventive habits or live positively if already infected.
World AIDS Day is a day set aside by UNAIDS to inspire global solidarity for persons infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS as well as commemorate those who have lost their lives to the epidemic. It is a day set aside to assess the impact of the epidemic on nations and join hands to plan strategies to minimise its impact.
The global theme for the occasion is “Know Your Status” but Ghana has however selected the sub-theme: “Test, Treat to Suppress and Stop New HIV Infections.”
Speaking on Ghana’s infection rate on Newsnite on Joy FM, Dr Atuahene said the high infection rate among young people is due to what he termed “high-risk sex.”
High-risk sex, he explained is when one has sex with a non-regular partner without protection.
“There are more and more young people who engage in multiple concurrent partnerships. And some are also involved in serial monogamy – they switch partners over time and in quick succession and that exposes them HIV infections,” he said.
He wants the media and other stakeholders in the fight against HIV infection to support the Commission to target the youth in Ghana.
According to the Commission, HIV testing is an essential step in accessing HIV services.
“Even though HIV does not have a cure, there is treatment thanks to advancement in science, and, in Ghana, medication for HIV treatment is free,” the Commission said in a statement.
“Scientific evidence shows that adherence to treatment affords persons living with HIV (PLHIV) the necessary health to live a normal life and go about their duties like everyone else. Sustained adherence to treatment leads to viral suppression and protects the infected person from opportunistic infections. Additionally, a PLHIV who is virally suppressed has a significantly reduced risk of transmitting the virus to others. To get to this state, one has to take the first step to test for HIV and know one’s status. This step is necessary to achieve the 90-90-90 targets with the ultimate goal of ending AIDS in 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals,” the statement added.