Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo, Programme Manager, of the National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NACP), says there is an increase in HIV-positive cases among the youth as seen in the third quarter HIV testing and surveillance data.
In the nine months to September 2022, the nation identified 33,870 positive cases while the 2021 Antenatal care (ANC) prevalence rate for the ages 15 to 24 was 1.5 per cent, higher than the previous year.
He attributed the rise in cases to the unconcerned lifestyle of the young population and urged the youth to be very conscious of their well-being and status.
Dr. Ayisi Addo stated at a pre-launch event of a pragmatic national campaign focusing on HIV Self-Test (HIVST) kits.
The HIV Self-Test Kits pack contains an instruction manual for use written in both English and Twi, a test device, a preservative, a developer vial, and a test stand.
The instruction manual also has eleven steps to follow with graphics to guide the individual to self-administer without the help of any other person.
Audio-visual educational versions have also been produced separately in other local dialects to promote awareness and use of the HIVST kits.
Dr. Ayisi Addo demonstrated the use of the HIVST kits to the Ghana News Agency Tema Regional Team and invited them to champion the Advocacy for its use ahead of the national launch and campaign in 2023.
He said there was an urgent need to sensitise the youth to reduce the numbers, describing the youth as a very vulnerable group who were not aware of the dangers and setbacks associated with contracting the disease.
Dr. Ayisi Addo urged the public to break barriers and know their status with the use of HIV self-test kits which would be available at selected pharmacies and hospitals across the country.
He said self-testing had come to empower Ghanaians to take control of their HIV status because “knowing your status is very powerful but walking in the dark is dangerous”.
HIV self-test kits availability would be scaled up in more health facilities as part of national efforts to improve HIV and AIDS Control in the coming year.
He explained that the results of the self-testing were not final, adding; “if you are reactive, you must go to a health facility and we will confirm your results for you”.
Dr. Ayisi Addo said the initiative had been programmed in a way that the health facilities would collate data for positive cases as people who test positive still needed to report to a facility for confirmation and treatment.
He said the self-testing was private and requires only consulting the health personnel for advice only before or after testing and noted that the face of HIV epidemic management had changed positively due to the introduction and scale-up of Anti-retroviral treatment.