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Ghana Unlikely To Achieve Global HIV, AIDS Target

Due to the country’s failure to invest sufficiently in comprehensive, rights-based, people-centred responses to HIV and AIDS, it is unlikely to reach the global targets of 90-90-90.

The global HIV/AIDS target of 90-90-90 requires that by the end of 2020, 90 per cent of people living with HIV will know their status, while 90 per cent of those who know their HIV status to be positive will be on antiretroviral treatment, with 90 per cent of people on antiretroviral treatment having their viral load suppressed to an undetectable level, at which point they become un-transmittable.

But the Country Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), Mrs Angela Trenton-Mbonde, has said Ghana has, at the moment, gone adrift of the UN target and achieved targets of 58-77-68.

Mrs Trenton-Mbonde, who spoke at an event to mark World AIDS Day, which falls on December 1, said the figures from Ghana meant that as much as  42 per cent of people living with HIV in the country were not aware of their status.

“There are impediments hindering people from knowing their HIV positive status in Ghana. One example is the law requiring parental consent for adolescents younger than 18 years to access HIV testing.

“This law clearly prevents an adolescent younger than 18 from having access to HIV testing if that person does not want to talk to his or her parents about the situation,” she said.

World AIDS Day

The event to commemorate World AIDS Day was organised by UNAIDS Ghana and Verified Health, a non-governmental organisation.

On the occasion, a project aimed at reaching out to young people to ascertain their HIV status and prevent sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies was launched.

Dubbed: ‘IKnowMyStatus’ project, it will provide individuals with free access to HIV testing and contraception.

Global statistics

Mrs Trenton-Mbonde said by the end of 2019, there were 1.7 million new HIV infections worldwide, while the global target on new infections was reduced by fewer than 500,000.

In addition, she said, there were around 690,000 AIDS-related deaths and illnesses, with the target to reduce AIDS-related deaths to fewer than 500,000 by the end of this year. 

She said statistics on the global target within the period were 81-82-88, adding that although the aim was to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination by the end of this year, people were still steeped in their behaviour.

New global target

Looking beyond 2020, Mrs Trenton-Mbonde said UNAIDS had released a more ambitious target of 95-95-95 which it expected to achieve by 2025.

She said even though many countries were not able to reach the 90-90-90 target, there were complementary, people-centred targets that looked at building a more enabling environment to support the realisation of the new target.

IKnowMyStatus Project

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Verified Health, Mr Alexander Quaisie, said through the spirit of volunteerism and the implementation of the ‘IKnowMyStatus’ project, the organisation was committed to mobilising young medical professionals, such as doctors, physician assistants and clinical psychologists, among others, to play various roles that were interrelated and relevant to their professional training, with the aim of ensuring an efficient continuum of services for all beneficiaries.

“Together, we are committed to offering free, confidential, convenient and highly professional services on sexual health to Ghanaian youth and especially key populations in the comfort of their homes and hostels,” he said.

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