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Ghana’s HIV prevalence rate drops by 1.7%
Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, Ghanadot

Accra, June 9, Ghanadot - The national HIV prevalence rate of Ghana dropped from 1.9% in 2007 to 1.7% in 2008, while the national median HIV prevalence also declined to 2.2% in 2008.

This came to light at the dissemination of 2008 HIV and AIDS Sentinel Survey Report and National HIV and AIDS Prevalence Estimates and Projections in Accra.

The HIV Sentinel Survey is a cross-sectional survey targeting pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in selected antenatal clinics in the country.

The Programme Manager of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), Dr. Nii Akwei Addo, who presented the results, observed the consecutive decline of the HIV prevalence was also witnessed in 2004 and 2005.

He revealed that Eastern Region of Ghana continued to be the region with the highest prevalence level of 4.2%, while the Northern Region recorded the lowest prevalence of 1.1%.

Conversely, all the 10 regions of Ghana, with the exception of the Eastern Region, recorded a decline in prevalence from 2007.

Three regions, namely, the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Eastern, had prevalence rates of 3% and above. Whilst, the Upper West Region recorded the highest decline from 3.3% to 1.6%, also three regions notably, Volta, Western and Upper East, had witnessed steady reduction in prevalence rates, since 2006.

The report further reveals that HIV prevalence in urban areas is higher than in rural areas. The mean HIV prevalence of urban communities is 2.6% compared with 2.3% in rural areas.

For the age group, the highest HIV prevalence of 3.0% is recorded within the 25-29 year group, while the least of 1.2% is recorded in the 15-year group.

The prevalence rate among the 15-24 year group, which is used as a marker for new infections, is 1.9%.

The report indicated that 94.5% of the HIV positive samples were HIV type I, while 3.8% was HIV type II, with dual infection of HIV type I and II being 1.7%.

For syphilis, the median prevalence for 2008 was 3.8%, representing a decline from 2007 which was 5.1%.

The report discloses that the Central Region of Ghana remained the region with the highest syphilis prevalence, with an increase in the rate from 18.6% to 20.5%.

The region with the lowest syphilis prevalence is the Northern, following a drop in prevalence from 2.1% to 1.7%.

HIV prevalence among Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) clients almost doubled from 5.7% to 10.5%, last year.

The Adabraka, suburb of Accra and Kumasi, Ashanti Regional capital STIs sites recorded a prevalence of 15% and 6.5%, respectively. The prevalence among females (11.8%) is still higher than that of males (7.8%) and high in the 35-39 year group (15.9).

Dr. Addo estimated that 236,151 people comprising 98,306 males and 137,845 females, lives with HIV and AIDS in Ghana. While 22,541 new infections and 18,082 AIDS deaths, out of which 2,241 are children.

It is projected that while the number of AIDS deaths is expected todecline, the number of people living with HIV is anticipated to increase gradually with improved access to anti-retroviral therapy, coupled with resulting new infections.

Touching on challenges, Dr. Addo indicated that there was the need to sustain prevention education targeted at the youth and other special groups.

He noted that the persistence of syphilis in some sites for the past years needed further examination to explicit its influence on the overall regional HIV prevalence, stressing those STIs services must be strengthened to ensure that all clients were tested for HIV.







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