Lydia Kukua Asamoah, GNA
Accra, Dec 3, GNA - Seventy per cent of estimated persons living with HIV (PLHIV) in Ghana knew their status as at the end of October this year, the Ministry of Health has announced.
This means that efforts needed to be increased in order for the country to attain the 90 per cent fast-track target and the UNAIDS’s goal of all persons living with HIV, being aware of their status by 2020.
The 90-90-90 strategy seeks to have 90 per cent of PLHIV aware of their status by 2020; while 90 per cent of all individuals diagnosed with HIV placed on sustained Anti-retroviral medicine; and 90 per cent of individuals who were initiated into Antiretroviral treatment (ART) achieving viral suppression.
The concept was introduced by the United Nation’s programme on HIV/AIDS in 2013, in an attempt to get the HIV epidemic under control and based on the principal of universal testing and treating.
In January this year, reports indicated that Ghana had only achieved 65-37-64 of the 90-90-90 target, “which was not so good, looking at the time limit”.
Dr Naa Ashiley Vanderpuye, the Chief Executive Officer of the West Africa AIDS Foundation (WAAF), in the beginning of the year, expressed worry that “with the trend we are going it doesn’t look like we will be able to reach our 90-90-90 target by 2020 if something doesn’t change,”
She was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the side-lines of the Annual Review Meeting of Non-State Actors in Health (NSA) in Accra.
She said the country needed to increase action to enable her to achieve the ambitious 90-90-90 HIV/AIDS.
However, Mr Alexander K.K. Abban, a Deputy Minister of Health, at a national durbar held in Accra, to commemorate the 2019 World AIDs Day, said: “Greater oversights, community monitoring and accountability at regional and district levels are critical to ensure improved performance and quality care ".
“That will set the stage for us to break transmission and ensure the HIV epidemic control in the general population”.
He said currently, approximately 142,000 persons were on ART out of over 300,000 who were enrolled into the Antiretroviral care.
The global theme for the Day was: "Communities make a difference" and Ghana chose “Communities make the difference, help end AIDS” as its local theme.
The Deputy Health Minister said the theme for 2019 AIDS day was a call for renewed commitment and passion by communities to reinforce their collaboration with the Ghana Health Service and other agencies at all levels of implementation to speedily expand access to differentiated testing and treat services.
He said such efforts should focus on strengthening linkage to treatment and retention in care in order to minimise client attrition.
Mr Abban called for the reinforcement of prevention education to complement treatment prevention, adding that that was the only way "We can effectively suppress and stop new infections from the current 19, 000 annual average to zero.
He called on civil society organisations to take advantage of the task-sharing guidelines to contribute their quota to the Ministry's effort.
On his part, Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene, Acting Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, said the country made appreciable progress in the national response, having sustained a low HIV prevalence, which was currently at 1.7 per cent.
He said in the last nine years, new infections have been reduced by 22 per cent, according to the 2018 national estimates report.
He however, was quick to add that despite the progress made, the decline in new infections was not significant enough to bend the epidemic curve, especially,as annual AIDS deaths remained too high.
He, therefore, emphasised on partnership with the media as crucial to inform, educate and galvanise community action towards ending AIDS.