Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) Kits will soon be made available in pharmacies as part of efforts to control national HIV infections, according to the National AIDS/STI Control Programme.
The Programme Manager, Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo, predicted that easy access to the self-testing kits will eventually result in early diagnosis and efficient treatment to lower the infection incidence.
People who test positive will be advised to report to a facility to begin their treatment, he added, adding that the National AIDS/STI Control Programme had begun testing the initiative.
At the introduction of the 5th National HIV and AIDS Research Conference (NHARCON), which the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) will host in 2023, Dr. Ayisi Addo gave a speech.
Beginning on April 25 through April 28, 2023, the NHARCON 2023 will focus on “Achieving HIV Epidemic Control Amidst Emerging Health Threats.”
The program manager emphasized the significance of this by noting that Ghana had 23,495 new HIV infections in the first half of 2022, with men accounting for 3.6% of these infections and women for 2.2%.
Out of the 259,408 people currently receiving treatment, 932 people passed away with HIV, and the remaining over 101,500 people are still unidentified, he noted.
“This is in excess of the estimated 19,000 new infections annually and lower than the previous year’s positive yield of approximately 25,000,” he stated.
The programme manager stated that, for both routine and HSS data during the reviewed period, the Bono Region continued to lead in prevalence at above 4%.
Dr. Ayisi Addo stated that aside from Western North, Ashanti, Greater Accra, and Eastern Regions, the HIV Sentinel Survey (HSS) prevalence for Bono East and Ahafo in 2021 was 3% and 2%, respectively, and remained in the top five for routine data for the first half of 2022.
If Ghana did not periodically inform the target population of information collected about them, he claimed, its objective of achieving epidemic control would be a phantom.
“Despite our progress towards achieving the global World Health Organization-UNAIDS aspirational 95.95.95 targets by 2030, our dream to achieve epidemic control remains a mirage.”
The 95-95-95 principle states that by 2025, 95% of all HIV-positive people should be aware of their status, 95% of those who tested positive should be receiving medication, and 95% of those who were taking their medication should have viral suppression. However, Ghana had met 71-99-79 of the predetermined goals as of December 2021.
No matter how admirable the country’s efforts and aspirations, according to him, it would be difficult to reach the goals without evidence and real-time data collected and given to the people to aid in prevention.
As part of the prevention strategy, he urged prioritizing and funding learning and dissemination platforms like NHARCON to help the nation realize its goal of achieving epidemic control.
The programme manager acknowledged the urgent necessity for data use in decision-making and requested abstracts from stakeholders that would help fill in any programming gaps in the national response.
He asked the government to take use of the next chance to train the teaming health professionals and delegates so they can contribute more to data creation, analysis, and utilization for effective treatments.
The conference serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas in support of the current National Strategic Plan’s execution (2021-2025).
Disseminating and exchanging strategic information on HIV and AIDS with its partners and stakeholders in the implementation of the National Response is another aspect of the GAC’s duty.
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