Currently, the HIV prevalence rate among adults in Ghana has stabilized at 1.5 per cent, after declining from 2.7 per cent in 2005, the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) has said.
An estimated 12,077 new infections occurred in 2011, out of which 1,707 were children.
Madam Mary Oforiwaa Asante, Director of Policy at GAC disclosed this when she presented an overview of the HIV situation in Ghana at a Regional Dissemination of the Revised National HIV and AIDS, STI Policy in the Upper West Region at Wa on Monday.
She mentioned low condom use, multiple and concurrent sexual partners, stigma and discrimination and the inability of key vulnerable populations to adopt protective behaviors and access HIV and AIDS STI services as some of the main determinants of HIV in Ghana.
According to Madam Oforiwaa Asante, HIV and AIDS contributed significantly to morbidity and mortality rates in Ghana and had dire social and psychological impacts on both the infected and affected.
She cited lack of sustainable funding for the national response strategy, shortage of the ARV, test kits and logistics, weak capacity and low coverage of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) as some of the main challenges hindering the fight against HIV in the country.
The GAC Policy Director said the overall goal of the revised national HIV and AIDS, STI Policy was to create a favourable environment for each aspect of HIV and AIDS including other STIs in relation to their prevention, care and support.
She said the objective was to halt and reverse the incidence of new infections with an ultimate aim to achieve zero new infections, eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and reduce HIV associated morbidity and mortality to ensure the continued survival of men, women and children who were infected with the virus among others.
Mr. Benedict Dery, a Deputy Director at the Upper West Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) thanked the GAC and the “Heart to Heart” Ambassadors for the nationwide campaign on stigmatization against persons living with HIV.
According to him, stigma was the most important barrier to people disclosing their HIV status or even associating themselves with anything that had to do with HIV, thus the reason for the continued spread of the disease particularly in the Upper West Region.
He again thanked GAC for organising the dissemination forum and expressed the hope it would provide the needed understanding of the national policy and enhance service delivery in the Region.
Mr. Dery called on Traditional Rulers to do away with socio-cultural practices such as widowhood rites and “by-elections” (a woman remarrying within the same family after the death of the husband) saying they contributed to the high rate of HIV infection among women.
According to the Deputy Director it was important to give a human face to issues on HIV and called on all departments to make provision for workplace policies to educate their workers and ensure that they know their HIV status and learn to accept and work with those infected with the disease.