District Director of Health Service of the Wassa East district, Dr Kofi Sutherland, has urged Ghanaians to erase the misconception that HIV/AIDs no longer exist and urged the citizenry to always protect themselves to prevent the further spread of the Virus.
According to him, AIDs was now a chronic disease just like diabetics, and people should encourage their neighbours, co-workers and friends to still practice the ABC and D of prevention and in addition test for their status in order to start Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) early to suppress the virus, which would enable infected persons to live longer and end the epidemic by 2030.
Dr Sutherland, who said this during the district World AIDs day celebration at Wassa-Ekutuase, in the Wassa East district of the Western Region, stressed that, abstinence, being faithful to one uninfected partner, condom promotion and drug (ABCD) were still very relevant in the prevention of HIV/AIDs in the country.
Touching on the theme, “The right to Health: Know your HIV Status-Seek early treatment”, Dr Sutherland said when it is carefully looked at, it is in agreement with the National Aids control programme and the UNAIDS 90-90-90 aspirational target, which call for 90 percent of people living with HIV to be aware of their HIV infection by testing to know their status.
He said the inspiration target is also to ensure to that 90 percent of all people living with HIV(PLHIV) receive Anti-Retroviral Therapy with another 90 percent of people on ART to achieve viral suppression within 12 months, which is aimed at ending the AIDs epidemic by 2030.
Dr Sutherland explained that the Epidemiology of HIV/AIDS globally in 2015, indicated that 36 million people were living with HIV/AIDs, out of the number, 67 percent were living in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA)
He said new HIV infections stood at 2.1 million with 75 percent living in Sub Saharan Africa, with 17 million PLHIV in SSA
The District Health Director further explained that deaths due to AID was 1.1 million, with most coming from SSA, adding that, children less than 15 years living with HIV stood at 1.8 million with majority from SSA.
He said children less than 15 years newly infected cases stood at 150, 000 whiles AIDS-related death among under 15 years was 110.000, with the majority in Sub Saharan Africa.
Dr Sutherland said in Ghana, the median ANC HIV prevalence in 2016 was 2.4 per cent, noting that, the 2016 HIV prevalence by region varied, with the lowest being 0.7 per cent in the Northern region and the highest being 2.7 per cent in the Brong-Ahafo region.
He said the prevalence in the Western region was 2.5 per cent and that the Wassa East district from January to date recorded 29 new cases made-up of 24 female and five males.
He said the facts about HIV/AIDs, pertaining its transmission, sign and symptoms as well as prevention and management still remained the same and urged parents to give attention and care to their children, saying that, “ be interested in their friends and instil in them discipline”.
“The youth should be obedient, focused on their studies and get role models in life to reduce peer influence” he added.