In a sobering revelation, the Ghana Aids Commission’s 2022 report has disclosed that an estimated 72,429 individuals in the Ashanti Region are living with HIV. This staggering figure brings attention to the urgent need for increased awareness, testing, and accessibility to Anti-Retroviral (ARV) medication.
According to the report, only approximately 26,000 individuals are currently receiving ARV medication at health facilities. This leaves a concerning gap of 46,421 individuals who either do not know their HIV status or have defaulted on ARV treatment. Deputy Ashanti Regional Focal Person for HIV/AIDS, Dennis Bandoh, expressed concern over this discrepancy, emphasizing the importance of identifying and supporting those not currently on treatment.
At the end of the third quarter of 2023, the region recorded an additional 4,618 new cases of HIV, representing a 2.1 percent increase compared to the previous year. These numbers underscore the persistent challenge of the HIV epidemic in the region.
The report also sheds light on testing efforts, revealing that 62,835 pregnant women were tested under the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission category. Out of these, 681 tested positive. Additionally, 3,937 individuals tested positive out of 51,940 screened under the general HIV testing services category. Notably, some men hold the misconception that if their pregnant wives or partners test negative, they are automatically negative as well.
In terms of regional HIV estimates, Greater Accra topped the chart with 85,403 cases, followed closely by the Ashanti Region with 72,429 cases, and the Eastern Region with 46,339 cases.
The gravity of the situation is further emphasized by the report’s disclosure of 9,359 AIDS-related deaths, with males accounting for 4,353 and females for 5,006. The country as a whole recorded 16,574 new HIV infections, with 5,647 in males and 10,927 in females. Among these, 2,868 were in the age group of 0 to 14 years, while 13,706 were adults aged 15 and above.
The HIV epidemic remains a pressing challenge, particularly affecting certain regions and vulnerable populations disproportionately. Immediate and concerted efforts are needed to bridge the treatment gap, enhance testing initiatives, and educate communities on HIV prevention and care. The data underscores the critical importance of comprehensive and accessible healthcare services to combat the spread of HIV and reduce the impact of AIDS-related illnesses.
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