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HIV PREVALENCE AMONG PREGNANT WOMEN UP BY 14%, SAYS SENTINEL SURVEY

Health & Lifestyle

The HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women in Ghana increased from 2.1 per cent in 2017 to 2.4 per cent in 2018, according to the 2018 HIV Sentinel Survey (HSS) report.

The HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women in Ghana increased from 2.1 per cent in 2017 to 2.4 per cent in 2018, according to the 2018 HIV Sentinel Survey (HSS) report.

The HSS is a cross-sectional survey targeting pregnant women attending selected antenatal care clinics in Ghana and has been used over the years as the primary source of data for national HIV prevalence and Aids estimates.

The report says the national HIV prevalence rate hit 1.69 per cent in 2018, up from 1.67 per cent in 2017, with about 20,000 new infections recorded last year.

This was disclosed by the programmes manager for the National Aids Control Programme (NACP), Stephen Ayisi-Addo, when he presented the results of the survey in Accra on Tuesday.

Regional breakdown

Dr Ayisi-Addo said the survey also showed that in 2018 rural HIV prevalence began to catch up with that of towns and cities.

Two regions, Greater Accra and Western, led in HIV infection with a 3.1 per cent prevalence rate, while the Northern Region recorded the lowest rate (0.6 per cent). Dr Ayisi-Addo said the increase in HIV among pregnant women is a clarion call to Ghana to redouble her efforts to control and prevent the spread of HIV.

The increased rates are the result of a low focus on HIV prevention interventions, Dr Ayisi-Addo said.

Recent efforts in prevention and social advocacy have declined. This is due to a drop in funding for this area, and the money for HIV control invested in treatment has to be complemented with general prevention education.

Condom usage

With regard to the infection rate among young people, which is 1.5 per cent, Dr Ayisi-Addo said it is a proxy for new infections, as Ghana has come through a cycle where many young people are not using condoms. This is cause for serious concern.

He said HIV infection among sexually transmitted infection (STI) clients is higher among women compared to men, with an increase in infection rates from 6.3 per cent in 2017 to 9.2 per cent in 2018.

Dr Ayisi-Addo said HIV control measures are now limited to hospitals, to the neglect of consistent education in communities, a situation that can derail the successes achieved.

NACP poised

He said the National Aids Control Programme (NACP) is poised to engage faith-based organisations, institutions and the media to contribute to the prevention of HIV and Aids as part of their corporate social responsibility requirements.

Anthony Nsiah-Asare, director general of the Ghana Health Service, advised men to adopt positive health-seeking behaviours and endeavour to check their HIV status.

He said the NACP will soon establish a fund to address the financial challenges associated with control and prevention of HIV and Aids.