Non-disclosure of spouses status driving HIV infections spike – AIDS Commission

The Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission has partly attributed the rise in new HIV infections to individuals’ reluctance to disclose their HIV status to their spouses, fearing desertion.

Dr Steve Kyeremeh Atuahene explained that the refusal of some HIV-positive individuals to continue their medication was a significant factor in the spike.

According to the Ghana AIDS Commission, over 334 people live with HIV in Ghana. In 2023 the country also reported 17,774 new cases, with 11,317 women and 6,457 men affected.

Dr Atuahene said “The fear of the husband or wife deserting them leads some not to disclose their status. Some are afraid their spouse may discover they are taking daily medication, leading them to hide or discontinue their medicines.”

Also, he highlighted the increased vulnerability of females to HIV infections compared to males.

“When a female has sex with a man, penile sex and the man ejaculates, the sperm which might contain HIV particles may remain in her for quite some time, whereas that of the male you hardly can see that.

“Secondly, the surface area of the vagina is much wider than that of the male and thirdly the mucus membrane of the vagina is much more fragile than of the male,” he added.

Again, the Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission noted that universal male circumcision in Ghana serves as a protective factor against HIV transmission.

“Women must be aware that they are more vulnerable and therefore they should protect themselves,” he emphasised.

“The transmission rate from woman to man is just about 2% whereas it is more than 12 % for a man, and that is why women should not gamble with their health and their life by just accepting that ‘if he will give them more money to have sex without a condom it’s okay for me’. It shouldn’t be okay for you, especially when you might have the untreated sexually transmitted disease, that can also heighten the chance of you getting HIV,” he said.

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