More than 70,000 people in Ashanti Region estimated to be living with HIV
A total of 72, 429 people in the Ashanti Region are estimated to be living with HIV, the Ghana Aids Commission 2022 report said.
Out of the number, only 26,006 are currently on Anti-Retroviral (ARV) medication at health facilities, leaving a gap of 46,421 who cannot be accounted for in terms of antiretroviral uptake.
These are people who either do not know their status or have defaulted ARV treatment.
Mr Dennis Bandoh, the Deputy Ashanti Regional Focal Person for HIV/AIDS, who disclosed to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), said the region also recorded 4,618 new cases at the end of the third quarter of 2023, representing 2.1 percent increase over last year.
Testing for HIV are in two categories – Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), which is mainly conducted on pregnant women, and HIV testing services for non-pregnant women and men, he explained.
Mr Bandoh said a total of 62,835 pregnant women had been tested under the PMTCT category with 681 testing positive, while 3,937 people tested positive out of 51,940 screened under the HIV testing services category.
“The key challenge we are facing is getting men to test voluntarily because men are mostly hesitant to check their status,” he noted.
Some males believe that once their pregnant wives or partners tested negative, then they were automatically negative, he said, and explained that there were cases where sexual partners had different status without knowing, hence the importance to test regardless of their partners’ status.
Mr Bandoh said when treatment was initiated earlier, the virus would be halted from progressing to the AIDS stage, and urged persons who tested positive to seek treatment at health facilities convenient for them.
Literature and available data indicate that men having sex with men, female commercial sex workers, long distance drivers and uniformed men were mostly at risk, he said.
“Most men in the gay community have sex with their partners without protection, thereby exposing them to the virus Men in uniform and long distance drivers by the nature of their work are often deployed to work in places far from home and also in the night, exposing them to the HIV self-test kits have also been made available in all health facilities where one could walk in for the kits.