Bolgatanga – In Bolgatanga, the Ghana HIV and AIDS Network (GHANET), a non-governmental organization, has urged Ghanaian youth to adopt self-testing measures to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS. This call comes amid concerns that many people in Ghana are living with the virus without knowing their status, posing a risk to public health.
According to Ghana News Agency, the National Public Relations Officer of GHANET, who spoke on behalf of the National President, Mr. Ernest Amoabeng Ortsin, the organization emphasized the importance of the national self-testing program. He highlighted this during the commemoration of World AIDS Day in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region, an event organized by GHANET and the Network of Persons Living with HIV (NAP+) in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service. The commemoration was attended by students and the general public.
The event featured a health walk aimed at raising awareness about HIV/AIDS, encouraging testing, and advocating against the stigmatization of persons living with the infection. Participants were also urged to protect themselves against the virus by using condoms. Free HIV testing kits were distributed to some members of the public.
The participants carried placards with messages promoting HIV testing and awareness. These messages included reminders that HIV treatment is free and the importance of knowing one’s status.
Mr. Anamoo stressed that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on health depends on more people knowing their HIV status. He referred to data from the National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NACP), indicating that only about 72% of the estimated 354,000 persons living with HIV in Ghana know their status, leaving approximately 100,000 unaware and potentially spreading the virus.
Mr. Majeed Sulemana, the Upper East Regional HIV/AIDS Coordinator for the Ghana Health Service, noted a worrying prevalence rate of HIV infections at 1.9% in the region in 2021. He highlighted a concerning increase in new HIV infections among adolescents, particularly those aged 10 to 14, attributing this to a decline in HIV/AIDS education.
Ms. Comfort Ayamga, President of NAP+, identified stigmatization as a major barrier preventing individuals, including those living with HIV, from seeking testing and treatment. She called for increased education to address this challenge.
Pe Aluah Thomas Asang-chera, the Upper East Regional Chairman of GHANET, emphasized the need for more efforts to protect the youth against HIV and other chronic diseases to build a sustainable economy.