GHANA RECORDS OVER 23,000 NEW HIV CASES IN THE FIRST 6 MONTHS (2022)
Ghana has recorded 23,495 new HIV-positive cases from the first 6 months of 2022 (January to June). This figure forms 2% of the 948,094 people who were tested during the period.
Picture: Flag of Ghana
In an interview with the Daily Guide, the Programme manager of the National STIs and HIV/AIDS Control Programme, Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo, indicated that although the number of positive cases this first half is slightly lower than compared to 2021’s mid-year report of 25,454, he expressed concern regarding the consistent rise in cases.
“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 further added in an interview on 3fm, that there are currently over 350,000 people in Ghana living with HIV. The Ghana Health Service has however been able to identify 71% of this. He cautioned the public against the unidentified 29% that are in the community knowingly and unknowingly spreading the virus to others.
Picture: Support for people living with HIV/AIDS
When asked about the cause of this rapid rise in cases, Dr. Addo cited complacency and ignorance on the part of the population. He added that since health authorities were no longer making noise about the dangers of the disease, people thought there was no longer a problem. With a population of 33 million people and an annual increase of at least 20,000 HIV-positive people, Ghana should be worried about this increase.
The virus is reported to have started in Congo, Africa. According to CDC, the virus had been transferred from a Chimpanzee to a human in the late 1800s when the animals were being hunted by humans for meat. Once contracted, the virus became transferable from person to person through unprotected sexual intercourse, exchange of certain bodily fluids, or the sharing of injection drug equipment.
The virus once contracted, attacks healthy cells that help the body fight infection and makes the body vulnerable to infection. If left unchecked the virus damages the body leading to the end stage of HIV called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Without treatment, a person with AIDS survives approximately 3 years. There is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS but drugs have been developed to help reduce the amount of HIV in the blood called antiretroviral therapy. Although this may seem like a silver lining, the drug has to be taken as prescribed for the rest of the individual's life. HIV once contracted stays with the person for the rest of their life as no cure has been found for the virus.