One million volunteers for AIDS test

Over one million people went for voluntary testing and counselling to know their HIV status last year, Mr. Kwadwo Asante, the officer in charge of monitoring and evaluation of the National AIDS Control Programme has said.

Besides, he said, 556,000 people had gone for the test between January and June this year.

Mr. Asante disclosed this to the Ghanaian Times the sidelines of a dissemination programme to distribute printed copies of the National HIV / AIDS Strategic Plan (NSP) for 2011- 2015 to Ministries, Departments and Agencies organised by the Ghana AIDS Commission in Accra on Monday.

“We hope that more people will go for the test by the end of the year.” Mr. Asante noted and said it was time people appreciated the benefits of getting tested.

“When people know their status early enough they can take good care of themselves and access treatment,” he added.

He stressed the need to intensify the campaign on mother-to-child-transmission (MTCT) to reduce the current rate of 30 per cent to less than five per cent by 2015.

The director for Policy and Planning of the Commission, Dr. Joseph Amuzu, noted that the NSP (2011-2015) had been developed to direct the implementation of the national response to HIV and AIDS in the next five years.

“The plan succeeds the current National Strategic Framework that ended in December, 2010 which will provide broad strategies for the implementation of the national response to HIV,” he said.

Dr. Amuzu explained that the plan had been prepared on the premise that HIV was a development issue and a public health challenge which must be dealt with as such.

“The NSP takes into account the unique challenges that Ghana faces in addressing the HIV pandemic,” he added.

Dr. Amuzu noted that although Ghana is among countries with low HIV prevalence of 1.9 per cent, there were still pockets of high prevalence in specific locations and among some sub-population.

“Additionally, there is a typically young population with high risk sexual behaviour, that requires a mix of strategies,” he added.