Ghana AIDS Commission launches 10th Anniversary

Vice President John Dramani Mahama, on Tuesday observed that though Ghana was among African countries with a stabilized epidemic as described in the UNAIDS Global Epidemic report of 2010, comprehensive knowledge about HIV was still low among Ghanaians.

He said condom use during higher-risk sexual intercourse was too low whilst HIV related stigma and discrimination was equally very high.

The Vice President made the observation in a speech read for him at the launch of the 10th anniversary of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) and the opening of the first ever national HIV and AIDS fair in Accra.

The year-long anniversary is on the theme: “A Decade of Active Partnership – sustaining the National Response towards Elimination of HIV and AIDS”.

Vice President Mahama noted that HIV still remained a key priority for the government and was a key component of the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda 2010-2013.

He commended GAC and its partners for working to ensure that the national HIV prevalence was declined over the past eight years from a high of 3.6 per cent in 2003 to 1.5 per cent in 2010.

He expressed the joy that prevalence rate among young people between the ages of 15-24 years had equally reduced from 3.5 per cent in 2003 to 1.5 per cent in 2010 whilst the prevalence among sex workers has reduced from 35 per cent in 2006 to 25 per cent in 2009.

The Vice President attributed the progress made to the committed leadership across all levels and by all stakeholders including those, who have themselves taken the bold decision to publicly disclose their HIV status and encourage others to do same.

“Innovative approaches of civil society in reaching out to vulnerable populations, policy makers who have also championed the formulation of policies and strategic plans to guide the implementation of HIV have played tremendous role in the success chalked”.

He expressed government’s committed to supporting the current the National Strategic Plan for HIV and AIDS (NSP) 2011-2015 to reduce by half the HIV infections in the next five years with a virtual elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and; sustain and scale up the proportion of people living with HIV (PLIHIV) who are on treatment.

The Director General of GAC Dr. Angela El-Addas, said despite the decline in stigmatisation, discrimination and adult prevalence of HIV and AIDS, the Commission’s major challenge had been the high cost of services rendered to HIV patients.

She paid a glowing tribute to her predecessors, Mrs Bridget Katsriku, the first Executive Secretary of the Ghana AIDS Commission who worked from 1998 to 2002 and Professor Sakyi Awuku Amoa who was the first Director-General from 2002 to2009 for their tireless efforts in getting Ghana this far in the first against HIV and AIDS.

The two past heads of the Commission gave a vivid and memorable historical account of the early years of GAC and described those moments as “hard times” but have to put in measures and strategies to achieve the current results.

The President of the National House of Chiefs, Professor Naa Nabila who chaired called for massive public education on HIV and AIDS.

He noted that if care was not taken, the successes chalked up in reducing the HIV prevalence would be marred and called for sustained efforts to make the country an HIV free one.

He said with the discovery of oil in large quantity, the nation stood at risk increasing the prevalence. This is because more female sex workers from other countries would be in Ghana to ply their trade.

Source: GNA

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.