Two hundred and seventy-five (275) people died of HIV/AIDS in the Ashanti Region, last year.
Late reporting to the health facilities and resorting to the prayer camps for treatment were to blame for the deaths, the Regional Focal Perso, Mr. Dennis Bandoh, has revealed.
He was speaking at a pre-implementation meeting of an HIV Advocacy Project in Kumasi. The project is a partnership between Hope for Future Generations (HFFG) and Ghana HIV and AIDS Network (GHANET) – both NGOs, with funding from the United States (US) Ambassador’s Small Grants Project.
Mr. Bandoh expressed deep concern about the significant percentage of people living with the disease in the region, not on treatment, largely because of the stigma. He indicated that out of the total of 38,265 patients, 18,579, representing about 49 per cent was not on treatment.
This, he said, was more upsetting as it fell far below the goal set by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) of ensuring that 90 per cent of the patients was put on antiretroviral therapy (ART) by year 2020.
As part of an ambitious treatment target to end the AIDS epidemic, UNAIDS has come up with what it dubs: “90-90-90”. Under this, the expectation is that by year 2020, 90 per cent of people living with the disease would know their status, 90 per cent of those with diagnosed infection would receive sustained ART and 90 per cent of all receiving ART would have viral suppression.
Mr. Bandoh highlighted the need to overcome the stigmatization, to encourage those with the infection to seek treatment at the hospitals.
It was also vital to reduce the laboratory test charges and ensure adequate supply of HIV/AIDS test kits in the facilities. Mrs. Cecilia Senoo, the Executive Director for HFFG, said the goal of the one-year HIV Advocacy Project was to assist break down barriers and motivate people living with the disease to access quality treatment services and medication.
They were going concentrate in the Kumasi Metropolis, Obuasi and Bekwai Municipalities. She said they would be working closely with the Ghana Health Service, Ghana AIDS Commission, the Network of Association of Persons Living with HIV (NAP+Ghana), the Ghana-West Africa Program to Combat and STI (WAPCAS), the media, traditional and religious leaders, to achieve the intended outcomes.