HIV/AIDS: Ghanaian youth encouraged to embrace self-testing

By Anthony Adongo Apubeo

Bolgatanga, Nov 27, GNA – The Ghana HIV and AIDS Network (GHANET), a non-governmental organisation, has advised Ghanaian youth to embrace self-testing to help minimise the spread and effects of the infection. 

It said many people in Ghana were still living with the virus without knowing their status, which was dangerous. 

The Organisation, therefore, called on Ghanaians to take advantage of the national self-testing programme to know their status and seek the required treatment to stay healthy and contribute to the country’s development. 

Mr Patrick Anamoo, the National Public Relations Officer of GHANET, gave the advice on behalf of Mr Ernest Amoabeng Ortsin, the National President of GHANET, at the commemoration of the World AIDS Day at Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region. 

The event was organised by GHANET and the Network of Persons Living with HIV (NAP+), in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service, attended by some students and the public.  

As part of the activities to mark the day, a health walk was held to create awareness about HIV/AIDS, the need to get tested and avoid stigmatising persons living with the infection and encourage people to protect themselves against the virus by using condoms. 

Free HIV testing kits were also given to some members of the public. 

The participants held placards with inscriptions like:  “Treatment for HIV is free, don’t Lose Guard”, “Test yourself, know your Status”, “Don’t be Naive, HIV is still real”, “72 per cent of Persons Living with HIV in Ghana know their Status, what about you?”, “Don’t Assume…use Condom if you are not Sure.” 

Mr Anamoo explained that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on health would not be realised if many people did not know their HIV status. 

“The National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NACP) has expressed confidence that the multiplication of HIVST testing options will help the country to achieve the first 95 of the 95-95-95 UNAIDS targets,” he said.  

“Currently, only about 72 per cent of the estimated 354,000 persons living with HIV in Ghana know their status. This means that about 100,000 PLHIV are not aware of their status and may be spreading the virus unknowingly.”  

Mr Majeed Sulemana, the Upper East Regional HIV/AIDS Coordinator, Ghana Health Service, revealed that the prevalent rate of HIV infections in the region was 1.9 per cent in 2021, which he described as worrying. 

“There is cause for worry in the sense that new HIV infections among the adolescents, who are the productive force of the future, have actually increased across the country, it is not even the late adolescents, it is the early adolescents aged 10 to 14,” he said. 

He attributed the cause to decline in education on HIV/AIDS, making people to believe that the virus had been defeated and encouraged Ghanaians, especially the youth, to use condoms to ensure dual protection against STIs and unplanned pregnancy. 

Ms Comfort Ayamga, the President of NAP+, said stigmatisation was a major barriers preventing the public and people living with HIV from visiting the health facilities for testing and treatment, and called for increased education to fight the challenge. 

Pe Aluah Thomas Asang-chera, the Upper East Regional Chairman of GHANET, said more needed to be done to protect the youth against HIV and other chronic diseases so they could help build a sustainable economy.