In total, 23,495 people tested positive for HIV in the first half of this year (January to June), official figures have revealed.
The figure is 2% of the 948,094 people who undertook HIV testing between January and June 2022.
The bulk of those affected belong to varying demographic groups: men, pregnant women, non-pregnant women, homosexuals and female sex workers.
The programme manager of the National STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and HIV/Aids Control Programme, Stephen Ayisi Addo, made the figures known in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra. He said even though last year’s half-year figure was 25,545, this year’s tally was still too high.
“The figure for this new infection is too high, so we need to intensify education to let people know that HIV is still real; it is around and there must be constant reminders.
“We have to let people know that they need to stick to the prevention strategies, whether they are children or adults,” he said.
He said of the people who presented themselves for testing, 4% each were from the Bono, Ahafo, Eastern and Western North Regions, while the Ashanti and Greater Accra Regions offered 3% each.
For the other regions, he said, while some registered 2%, others had 1 percentage point each. Dr Ayisi Addo said most of the 23,495 people who tested positive had since been placed on HIV treatment.
Reasons for new cases
On the reasons behind the new cases, the programme manager said unlike smallpox and other diseases that had been eliminated, HIV is still circulating in the population, and that as long as people are having sex and getting married, they will transmit STIs to others.
Complacency and ignorance are responsible for the new cases, Dr Ayisi Addo said, explaining that because health officials are no longer making noise about the dangers of HIV, people think there is no longer a problem.
“Some youth today don’t know HIV is there. Some know, but they have assumed that it’s gone. People are now more afraid of COVID-19 and the Marburg fever than they are of Aids,” he said.
Overall, as of December 2021, the estimated population of HIV-positive individuals in Ghana was 350,000, with only 71 per cent being identified by the control programme.
Of that number, be noted, over 245,000 (representing 99%) were receiving treatment as of June this year.
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