Wednesday, June 19, 2013

HIV Prevalence Rate Now 1.37 Percent

Source: Globalnewsreel.com

Ghana’s HIV prevalence rate currently stands at 1.37 per cent, the 2012 Sentinel Survey (HSS) and National Prevalence and Estimates report has revealed.

The report which was released in Accra on Wednesday, further estimates that 235,982 persons, out of whom 27,734 are children (11.8 per cent), are living with HIV and AIDS.

There are also 7,991 new infections, of which 852 are children between the ages of zero to 14 years and a total of 11,655 AIDS deaths which include 1,620 children between the ages of zero to 14years, bringing the estimated number of orphans to 192,193.

According to the report, the total need for Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) for 2012 is estimated to be 121,027, of which children between the ages of zero to 14 years forms 14,761 and an estimated 9,749 being mothers, would also need Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMCT) services.

The HSS, which is a cross sectional survey targeting pregnant women who attend antenatal clinic in selected sites in Ghana, is an annual event and the 21st since its inception.

It has being the source of primary data for the estimation and projection of the HIV and AIDS impact of the general population of the country.

Dr Nii Akwei Addo, Programme Manager, National AIDS Control Programme, at a programme to disseminate the report, made reference to the National Strategic Plan 2010-2015, which aims at ensuring universal access to comprehensive HIV services within which key interventions such as the generation of strategic information through surveys such as the HSS are to be undertaken.

He said the report, therefore, serves as a reference document for the design, implementation and monitoring of programmes within the national response.

Dr Addo said HSS was initiated based on the premise that prevalence of HIV among pregnant women was a good proxy indicator of the spread of the infection among the populace.

Thus the report represents prevalence among pregnant women, while the National HIV Prevalence Estimates which is derived from HSS data calibrated with Demographic and Health Survey (DHS+) and other programme data, indicates the national HIV prevalence for Ghana.

He said the survey covered 40 sentinel sites established in all the ten Regions with each Region having at least three sites and also 23 urban and 17 rural sites, to ensure a balanced representation of the rural-urban areas in the determination of the HIV prevalence in Ghana.

He said in spite of the seemingly downward trend of the epidemic in the country, there were Regional variations which ranged from as high as 3.6 per cent in the Eastern Region as a site to 0.8 per cent in the Northern Region being the lowest.

Site HIV prevalence also ranged from as low as 0.2 per cent in Nalerigu to as high as 10.1 per cent in Agomanya.

Analysing the report, Dr Addo stressed that a linear trend of Ghana’s prevalence since 2000 shows a declining epidemic overall and within Regions.

He said the 2012 survey shows that a reduction in adult national prevalence, median Syphilis prevalence, prevalence of both HIV and Syphilis amongst Sexually Transmitted Infection clients and in Ghana’s young population from 2011.

Again the prevalence of HIV among pregnant women attending antenatal clinics, however, remained the same as in 2011 with the notice of fewer deaths occurring annually as more persons access ART and PMTCT services.

Dr Addo said the reports predict a decline in new HIV infections and deaths among Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) including children, with improved access to ART and PMCT and increase demand to the medication.

He appealed to the mandatory authorities to devote more resources towards the sustenance of national responses to HIV and AIDS and to ensure progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.

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