HIV/AIDS remains an epidemic of public health concern in the country claiming 9,354 in 2022.
In the same year, 16,574 people were infected, bringing to 354,927, the total number of persons living with HIV in the country. The data is contained in a recent national HIV report — “2022 National and sub-national HIV estimates and projections report”, which was disseminated in Accra yesterday by the Ghana Aids Commission (GAC) and partners.
The commission said the recent data took precedence over all previous data because it was generated with an improved version of the mechanism used in the past.
The Director-General of GAC, Dr Kyeremeh Atuahene, said HIV estimates were critical in understanding the magnitude of the epidemic.
“As we know, a well-planned response to the HIV epidemic requires accurate data information about the disease over time.
We must also acknowledge the tremendous strides we have made as a nation in our response to HIV.
“We celebrate the lives that have been saved and the communities that have been empowered through our collective efforts, however, while we celebrate progress, we must not forget the harsh realities that persist,” he added.
According to the data, females were more vulnerable, accounting for 239,692 of the total national burden, as against males who accounted for 115,235.
“Women also comprise 10,927 of the new infections in the year under review, with 5,647 being males,” Dr Atuahene said.
He explained that women had higher chances of getting infected than men because of their biological or body make-up.
“Biologically, women are more vulnerable than men to infection because of the greater mucus area exposed to sexual intercourse.
Women under age 17 years are at even greater risk because they have an underdeveloped cervix and low vaginal mucus production.
“Therefore, females must make conscious effort to protect themselves during sexual intercourse with partners whose status they did not know, and men should also help protect the women,” Dr Atuahene added.
Despite the gloomy nature of the epidemic, he said national response had made some strides which included the gradual decline of prevalence and death rates.
However, Dr Atuahene said progress was very slow and that if care was not taken, the country would likely not achieve the global 95-95-95 target it was committed to by 2030.
The joint UN programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 95-95-95 target demands that countries diagnose 95 per cent of all HIV-positive individuals, provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 95 per cent of those diagnosed and achieve viral suppression for 95 per cent of those treated by 2030.
Currently, the country has achieved 71.1, 62.7, and 42.7, respectively.
He, therefore, said more investment and effort of stakeholders was needed to boost prevention and provide services and medications for better outcomes.
“Having an undetectable viral load does not mean you are cured of HIV.
It makes you non-infectious and healthier, but if you stop taking treatment, your viral load would increase very fast to be detectable,” Dr Atuahene said.
The Country Director of UNAIDS, Hector Sucilla Perez, said partners at the global, regional and country levels used the data to ensure that AIDS response was focused and effective as possible.