Tema records over 500% increase in adolescent HIV infection

The Tema Metropolitan Health Directorate (TMHD) in 2017 recorded a startling 500 per cent increment in HIV infections among adolescents aged between 10 and 19 in the Metropolis.

The figure shot up from 36 and 27 in 2015 and 2016 respectively to 143 between January and December 2017.

Mrs. Grace Eddy Amewu, Adolescent Health Focal Person at the TMHD, revealed this to the Ghana News Agency in an interview on Tuesday.

The figure which formed 7.6 per cent of 1,881 HIV infections in the Metropolis comprised of 60 males and 83 females.

Mrs. Amewu noted that 139 out of the total were recorded in Tema Central compared to the 24 HIV infections documented in the area in 2016.

Tema West on the other hand recorded four cases over the three cases recorded in 2016, while Tema East recorded no HIV infection among that age group for the two years.

She however stated that the high figure recorded in Tema Central which mostly came from the Tema General Hospital could include adolescents residing outside the Metropolis but tested at the TGH.

Touching on contributing factors, she said unhealthy cultural practices including circumcision with unsterilized implements, tattooing, ear and body piercing and other community causes are to blame.

The Focal Person also mentioned lack of sex education at home led adolescents to explore to get answers adding that some ended up having multiple sexual partners, while others also engaged in unprotected sex and injecting themselves with drugs using infected needles.

MrsAmewu added that even though adolescent friendly health officials were doing their best to educate the youth on sexual issues, there was the need for an intensification.

She indicated that there were however lack of adequate staff couple with financial and logistical constraint.

Dr John Yabani, Tema Metropolitan Health Director, on his part attributed the increase in the HIV positive test to outreach programmes that encouraged many of the youth to test for their status.

DrYabani called on organizations and individuals to help the Directorate to empower its Adolescent Health Unit to embark on more educational programme to curb the increase in pre-marital sexual activities among the youth in the area.

Source: GNA

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