Author: Dr. Gloria Sangiwa During the last four decades we’ve seen stunning achievements in the global and local responses to HIV. We’ve made…
THE RISE OF HIV IN GHANA
Author: Benedict Ofori, BSc. West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens
GENERATING INSIGHTS TO HELP CURB THE INCIDENCE OF INCREASING HIV INFECTION IN GHANA
In recent decades, growing disparities between the wealthy and the poor in Ghana have been made worse by differences in how the two groups behave. Previous studies carried out in Ghana demonstrate that sexual behaviors between men and women, the distribution of marital status, particularly being widowed, divorced, or separated, and the disparate distribution of premarital sex between males and females all contribute to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Ghana (Owusu, 2020). The Programme Manager of the Ghana National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), Dr. Stephen Ayisi-Addo strongly linked the country’s high rate of HIV/AIDS transmission to the public’s low usage of contraceptives and other family planning techniques. Several interventions have been suggested in the prevention of transmission of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa which accounts for more than 70% of HIV Cases globally (Kharsany & Karim, 2016). It is interesting to look into which interventions are more successful in which demographic subgroups (Faust & Yaya, 2018). The official website of the Ghana AIDS Commission reports that about 350,000 people are living with HIV in Ghana. Out of these numbers, the Commission also reports that 71% know their status and that 99% of the people diagnosed with HIV in Ghana received sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART). However, studies conducted by several researchers in Ghana prove otherwise. Concerns have been raised about the strict adherence to ART. The non-adherence to ART in Ghana has been attributed to a lack of social support and the high stigma associated with sexually transmitted infections (Fosu et al., 2022). According to the UN AIDS program, action is required to restart the progress that was being made toward eradicating HIV/AIDS as a public health epidemic by 2030. In the first half of the year 2022, the National STIs and HIV/AIDS Control Programme reported a total of 23,495 HIV infections in Ghana. The HIV cases in Ghana are very alarming but are people scared of the disease as compared to other diseases like COVID-19, Marburg, Ebola, and others?
Being one of the most studied infectious diseases in the world, efforts are still being put in place to find a cure for HIV. Currently, there are a lot of therapeutic drugs that are being used in the management of HIV. Because HIV survives in stable reservoirs that the immune system is unable to detect, it is extremely difficult to treat and it might not be possible finding a cure for HIV (Richman, 2011). As scientists focus on finding better treatment regimens and a possible vaccine for the disease, our focus should be on finding better ways of using standard preventive methods to limit the transmission of HIV. The development of an HIV vaccine is essential for those who are HIV-negative if a significant decrease in the epidemic transmission is to be accomplished. The major problem with the therapeutic drugs that have been designed to manage the condition is the strict adherence to the drugs for life. Most people living with HIV do not adhere to the daily intake of the drug. The biggest threat to human life is microbes. As far as they continue to compete with us for survival, we should not lose our guard on trying to overcome the threat that these microbes put to human life.
THE IMPACT OF HIV ON THE GHANAIAN ECONOMY
Policies to address the significant macroeconomic implications of HIV/AIDS in Africa, including whether to target economically productive populations with pricey antiviral medications, may be challenging (Dixon et al., 2002). According to UNAIDS, external funding in Ghana accounted for 74 and 59 percent, respectively, of all expenditures linked to HIV/AIDS in that nation in 2002 and 2003 (Haacker, 2004). The government of Ghana has spent over 500 million USD on HIV.AIDS-related expenditures.
Figure 1: Expenditure on HIV/AIDS-related treatment over the past 5 years in Ghana.
Most youths in Ghana, especially those living in resource-limited settings do not adhere to preventive methods to limit the transmission of the disease. This has seen a surge in the rate at which people living in rural areas get infected with the diseases. The government of Ghana should restrategize and find a better way of reducing the incidence of HIV transmission in Ghana. As a developing country, the monies spent on HIV/AIDS-related regimens could be used to invest in other sectors that could see major development in Ghana.
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Faust, L., & Yaya, S. (2018). The effect of HIV educational interventions on HIV-related knowledge, condom use, and HIV incidence in sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-6178-y
Fosu, M., Teye-Kwadjo, E., & Salifu Yendork, J. (2022). Patient-Reported Experiences of Medication Adherence at a Community-Based HIV Clinic, Ghana. Journal of Patient Experience, 9, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1177/23743735221107263
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Kharsany, A. B. M., & Karim, Q. A. (2016). HIV Infection and AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa: Current Status, Challenges and Opportunities. The Open AIDS Journal, 10(1), 34–48. https://doi.org/10.2174/1874613601610010034
Owusu, A. Y. (2020). A gendered analysis of living with HIV/AIDS in the Eastern Region of Ghana. BMC Public Health, 20(1), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-08702-9
Richman, D. D. (2011). Introduction: Challenges to finding a cure for HIV infection. Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS, 6(1), 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1097/COH.0b013e328340ffa6