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In Upper East 669 die of AIDS

This was contained in a report compiled in 2015 and cited this month by the Upper East Regional Health Directorate.

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The Ghana Health Service has revealed that at least 669 persons have died from HIV/AIDS with 698 new infections recorded in the Upper East Region.

This was contained in a report compiled in 2015 and cited this month by the Upper East Regional Health Directorate.

According to the report, 6,397 people are living with the disease with 3,886 persons, only about a half of the infected numbers, said to be on antiretroviral therapy.

The development follows earlier claims by the regional directorate that the HIV prevalence rate has dropped in the region with antiretroviral treatment clinics established in all thirteen municipalities and districts.

READ ALSO: HIV/AIDS Ghana finds possible cure for deadly disease

Speaking at the regional commemoration of the World AIDS Day at Navrongo, the regional director of health, Dr. Kofi Issah said the Upper East region “has continued to register a consistent decline in HIV prevalence rate from 2.1% in 2012 to 1.5% in 2015. The proportion of HIV-positive pregnant women put on antiretroviral treatment increased from 35.1% in 2013 to 94.9% in 2015. There has been reduction in HIV infection vertical transmission among babies from 7.3% in 2012 to 5.7% in 2015.”

He said in spite of “the positive consistent reduction in HIV prevalence our region has recorded over the past three years, there is a cause to worry as the situation is on the reverse in Navrongo where records show a consistent increase in prevalence rate in the past three years- 1.2% in 2013, 1.6% in 2014 and 1.8% in 2015.”

He also feared that the limited number of midwives in the region could increase the risk of babies contracting the disease.

“The region is faced with limited midwives who play [a] pivotal role in the comprehensive prevention from mother to child transmission and general HIV testing intervention services. This situation has the tendency to compromise the delivery of quality services since the limited midwives are overwhelmed with work as they run both static and outreach services. Due to dwindling financial support, our quest to build the staff capacity to offer the service is affected,” Dr. Issah pointed out.

He added: “The number of midwives and community health nurses trained on comprehensive HIV testing services is far below the target of at least 2 per facility. Stigma and discrimination exhibited towards people living with HIV from the society, poor family support for affected persons and lack of NGOs and philanthropists in the region to support in the HIV fight are also a cause for worry. Coupled with this is transportation constraint. Motorbikes and cars to facilitate outreach services and antiretroviral delivery to lower-level facilities are also not readily available- which has become a major bottleneck in all service delivery facilities.”

READ ALSO: Adolescents continue to experience elevated HIV/AIDS - Lordina Mahama

The Ghana AIDS Commission who was also present at the event called on the people to go for voluntary HIV testing, breast cancer screening and blood pressure measurement.

It also announced that it will not relent on punishing individuals who inflicted any form of stigma or discrimination on people living with HIV/AIDS.

The Upper East Regional Technical Coordinator of the Ghana AIDS Commission, Dr. Gifty Apiung Aninanya said the HIV-related sanctions are backed by a new Act.

“We are entering the year 2017 with a new Act for the Ghana AIDS Commission. Some of the striking aspects of the new Ghana AIDS Commission Act are the provision it makes for sanctions against people who stigmatise and discriminate against persons who live with HIV, the need to address the human rights needs of people living with HIV and other vulnerable populations,” she added.

Bekoe, 21 left his home in Accra on August 10, got on his bike and started a four-month adventure, biking across all ten regions of Ghana.

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