HIV/AIDS Rate Increases In The Upper East Region

The Upper East Region saw an increase in HIV/AIDS prevalence from 1.5 per cent in 2011 to 2.1 percent in 2012, a figure higher than the national prevalence rate of 1.37 per cent from the 2012 national prevalence study. The 2010 HIV Sentinel Survey Report, a research conducted annually to measure prevalence rate of the virus, showed that the Upper East Region recorded an HIV prevalence of 3.8 per cent. Health experts have attributed the increase to high illiteracy rate, poverty and perennial rural-urban migration for non-existent jobs as these factors predisposes individuals to HIV infections. The issue of discrimination and stigmatization towards persons living with HIV is another contributing factor to the high increases of HIV/AIDS prevalence in the region. This was made known during the Regional commemoration of this year’s World AIDS Day in Bolgatanga on Monday. The celebration had a sub-national theme: “Accelerating the national response towards the MDGs”. Dr John Koku Awonoor-Williams, Regional Director of Health Services, said in a speech read for him that the Regional Health Directorate had started a programme to scale HIV and AIDS services with focus on individuals to have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. On the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission, he said all RCH Centres through to CHPS compound level were providing services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV as part of measures to achieve universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support. He urged members of the public to remain responsible by getting to know their HIV status and get access to further care at health facilities. Dr Awoonor-Williams expressed appreciation to the government through the Ghana AIDS Commission and other partners for their immense support in assisting to sustain the fight against HIV and AIDS in the Region. Mr Daniel Syme, Deputy Upper East Regional Minister, said the National Strategic Plan took into account the unique encumbrances the country faced in addressing the HIV epidemic. He said Ghana was among countries with low prevalence rate and efforts at responding to the epidemic needed to be sustained and scaled up to lower the prevalence rate even more. He said stakeholders had relaxed efforts to reduce the infection rate which had invariably led to increase in prevalence rate and called for more sustainable approach in addressing the trend. Madam Comfort Ayamga, Upper East Regional Branch President of the National Association of Persons Living with AIDS (NAP+) called for an end to the discriminatory practices and stigmatization against persons living with the virus as that affected them psychologically.