By Samira Larbie
Accra, Sept 23, GNA – The Ghana HIV and AIDS Network (GHANET) has asked herbalists who claim to have cure for HIV and AIDS to seek certification from Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) for their medication.
“We hear of herbalists and spiritualists in the media claiming they have cure for HIV. We at GHANET don’t doubt or refute your claim. If you say you have cure, apply to the FDA and if they approve of it then as a country we will be ready to use it.
“But until such certification, it is improper for herbalists and spiritualists to claim to be treating people. We have been to several prayer camps and herbalist centres and we see many HIV people there. These are the people who lose their lives easily because they stopped taking their medications and that is not good,” Mr Ernest Ortsin, the President of GHANET has said.
He said the practice was affecting progress made in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the country and must stop.
Mr Ortsin said this at a media training workshop by the Network on epidemic control in collaboration with Enda santé on the theme: “Rethinking HIV Interventions for Vulnerable Population in the country.”
The purpose of the workshop was to reflect on current HIV programming with the aim of reviewing strategies, activities, and actors in the face of the changing context.
Recent data from the National STIs and HIV and AIDS Control Programme (NACP) indicate that a total of 23, 495 new HIV infections were recorded in the first six months of 2022.
The figure is two percent of the 948,094 people who undertook HIV testing from January to June 2022.
He said the population affected by HIV were identified as key population (KP) groups – sex workers, men who have sex with men, young women, transgender, and adolescents.
“Young women are disproportionately affected by HIV because of high levels of gender based violence, gender inequality, and violence, which contribute to the national HIV epidemic,” the President said.
He said the workshop was important because it would outline the crucial role the media played in the rethinking processes to help influence Country Operational Plans (COP) in ensuring consistency with country needs and priorities.
This would contribute to the new direction of national HIV programming in Ghana and other PEPFAR countries.
Mr Ortsin called for the needed support to restrategise HIV and AIDS interventions in the country.
Reverend Kenneth Ayeh Danso, the NACP Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, advised Ghanaians to know their HIV status for early and effective treatment.
He stated that a 2021 data estimated that a total of 345,599 Persons Living with HIV and AIDS (PLHI) were living in the country.
Rev. Danso said as of June 2022, a total of 262,042 persons were on the Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).
He said the figure was made up of five per cent of children and 75 per cent females.
Rev Danso said it meant that men were not reporting, a situation that needed to be reversed to be able to reach the 95-95-95 goal.
Dr Nii Nortey Hanson-Nortey, a Public Health Consultant, took the participants through topics such as key population interventions, rethinking the national HIV Response, legal and policy framework, and Ghana HIV programme rethinking and the role of the media.
The workshop was supported by PEPFAR, USAID, EpiC and Civil Society Institute for HIV and Health.