Ghana AIDS Commission will soon roll out self-testing as a measure of encouraging testing and treatment of HIV once the necessary approvals are attained.
According the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, “the policy when implemented will encourage individuals, who for the fear of stigma would not go for a test, to know their status.”
President Akufo-Addo gave the hint in a speech delivered on his behalf by the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Cecilia Abena Dapah, during the National celebration of the World AIDS day held in Ho.
"The Ghana AIDS Commission in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and other relevant stakeholders, seeks to revitalize and sustain the 'Know your Status campaign’,” the President stated in his speech.
He said “the Ghana AIDS Commission is currently in the process of obtaining the relevant approvals for policies to have the way for introducing HIV self-testing”.
The President also appealed all Ghanaians to go for a test so as to know their status and get the necessary intervention there are.
"The call to know your HIV status is a call to empowerment and liberation. Getting tested to know your HIV status gives you free access to a variety of HIV services including lifesaving antiretroviral treatment If you test positive for HIV,” he stated.
The President said “in the same vain getting tested to know your status liberates you from the fear of and anxiety associated with HIV.”
Acting Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, Kyeremeh Atuahene, stated the Ghana AIDS Commission will be recruiting more lay counsellors to help disburse antiretroviral drugs in the various communities and to ensure that persons living in HIV and AIDS adhere to their treatment regimes.
"Going forward, more lay counsellors and girls of hope will be recruited, trained and supported to expand delivery of anti-retroviral drugs to stable clients in the communities, in addition to their current role of support and defaulter tracing,” she added.
Kyeremeh Atuahene, however, bemoaned the attrition in the adherence to antiretroviral drugs among persons living with HIV.
He stated, "data from the National AIDS control project shows that the number of persons initiated on anti-retroviral treatment has increased appreciably since 2016 whereas attrition rate appears to be increasing."
He attributed the high attrition to false claims of current by alternative health providers and persons living with HIV switching from anti-retroviral drugs to traditional medicine and prayer campus.
Recent statics as released by the Ghana AIDS Commission reveals that 52 persons are infected daily with HIV in Ghana and 43 persons die daily as the condition.
Support to HIV response
The Charge D'Affaires of the Embassy of the United States, Christopher Lamora, in his solidarity message, expressed the commitment of the United States government to the response to the eradication of the HIV and AIDS.
According to him, through the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Reliefs (PEPFAR), the United States has partnered with Ghana in the effort to end HIV and AIDS and will continue to do so.
"Since the global launch of PEPFAR 15 years ago, and 10 years ago in Ghana, the U.S’ commitment to ensuring an HIV free generation has not wavered,” he stated.
“We have invested over 80billion [dollars] in the global HIV/AIDS response through U.S. bilateral HIV efforts and also against tuberculosis as well as our contribution to the Global Find to fight AIDS," Mr. Lamora added.
Standard Bank and its subsidiary in Ghana, Stanbic Bank, have supported this year’s World AIDS day.
According to the Standard Bank 's Chief Executive, Africa Regions, Sola David-Borha, it is responsible for businesses to support the efforts at ending HIV, and it is for that, that Standard Bank and its subsidiary, Stanbic Bank are supporting the HIV Epidemic response Campaign.
"One initiative that the Standard bank is supporting along If the global fund is the HIV Epidemic Response (HER) Campaign and it is aimed at empowering women and girls to end AIDS in Africa,” said she explained.
She added “girls account for more 80% of all new infections among adolescents in hardest-hit countries. We have made a direct contribution of $2million and an additional $2million through fund raising with our staff and other stakeholders."
An estimated 21.7 million people were receiving HIV treatment in 2017. However, globally, only 59% of the 36.9 million people living with HIV in 2017 were receiving ART, according to World Health Organisation.
In Ghana, there are over 313,000 persons living with HIV as at the end of 2017.
Ghana's theme for the celebration is Test, Great, to Suppress and end new infections.
The global theme is 'Know your Status'.