Ghana AIDS Commission on campaign to achieve “First 90 Fast-Track” target

AIDSThe Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) is embarking on a one-year campaign to achieve the “First 90 Fast-Track” target to ensure that 90 per cent of all persons living with HIV know their HIV status.

The First 90 Fast-Track target, which is part of a broader UNAIDS Global Strategy, is ultimately to end AIDS by 2030, but this requires that countries set short-term targets for 2020 to allow for the tracking of progress towards achieving the global long term goal.

These short term targets are popularly called the “90-90-90 Fast Track Targets,” meaning that 90 per cent of all People Living with HIV (PLHIV) would know their status; 90 per cent of all people diagnosed with HIV infection would receive sustained Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), while 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy would have viral suppression.

The GAC has initiated Regional consultation meetings with key stakeholders to serve as a platform for exchange and dialogue for developing policy and institutional measures, provide better understanding about the status of the first 90 campaign and to discuss and identify funding opportunities and challenges associated with promoting HIV testing and counselling.

Ms Golda Asante, the Technical Co-ordinator at the Ghana AIDS Commission, at the opening of the Greater Accra Regional stakeholder consultation meeting on Thursday,underscored the importance of the First 90 Campaign, as it was the entry point to prevention and treatment.

She, however, cited countless challenges with regards to inadequate test kits, funding for mobilisation and outreach, human resource capacity, policy issues regarding testing and counseling, as well as stigma and discrimination and called for cross-sectoral support to address those issues.

Early detection, she said, was key to ensuring access to treatment for PLHIV so as to suppress their viral load, and to also ensure that even though there would be new cases of HIV, the virus would no longer be a public health danger because it would not progress to AIDS.

Participants at the Greater Accra Regional Consultation meeting include regional, municipal and district co-ordinating directors, directors of health services, HIV co-ordinators and focal persons, members of the Regional AIDS Committee, academia, security services, the private sector, civil society, the Network of Persons Living with HIV, youth groups, Persons with Disability, as well as faith-based organisations.

Mr Emmanuel Larbi, the Acting Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, said participants would make impute to develop regional work plans for the campaign which was launched nationally in Ghana in March this year.

He said the first 90 diagnosis of HIV was essential to the second 90 initiation of ART among people PLHIV and the ultimate outcome of the third 90 viral load suppression among people on the ART would improve client outcomes and prevent HIV transmission.

The 90-90-90 target, therefore emphasises speed in scale-up and early initiation of HIV treatment in a manner consistent with human rights.

Mr Larbi said achieving the 90-90-90 target required countries to move away from the ‘business as usual approach’ and frontload resources, and exhibit political commitment and introduce innovations in their respective AIDS response policies.

The Commission, he said, envisages that about six million people would be tested for HIV over the one year campaign period and called for sustained commitment on the part of stakeholders to achieve the set goals.

Source: GNA

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