The MSM (Men having Sex with Men) situation in Ghana is an issue that we cannot run away from. The work of the reported NGO that registered up to 8,000 MSM (on page the front page of the Tuesday, May 31 edition, of the Daily Graphic), if true may just be a microcosm of the real situation on the ground.
Activities of MSM may predispose some of them and their other heterosexual partners to HIV. It is important therefore to have the requisite data for planning HIV prevention and treatment interventions.
The Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) envisaged this and has already initiated a series of focused surveillance activities for HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among most at risk populations (MARPS).
This study is being implemented by GAC as part of a broader initiative to conduct HIV and STI surveillance of MARPs including MSM, female sex workers and injecting drug users. Participation of all MARPs in this study is voluntary, and their confidentiality is protected.
The primary objectives of the proposed studies are as follows:
• Monitor prevalence and risk factors for HIV and STIs of MARPs
• Identify and describe key characteristics of MARPs which place them at risk of HIV.
• Describe how MARPs--including highly vulnerable subgroups--may be identified, reached, and served by various health programs
What we should do?
It is important that all hands are on deck to reduce the number of young people who are lured into MSM.
We wish call on all religious leaders, traditional leaders, educationists, parents, NGOs working with young people, to get involved in educating our young males on the dangers of being involved in sex with other men.
The commission is already extending services on protection and the use of health products such as lubricants and condoms to identified MSM groups through our CSO's.
It is imperative that the Media and other partners in the National Response work closely with the Ghana AIDS Commission to enable us present an accurate picture of the National Response to HIV.
All enquiries may be directed at the Ghana AIDS Commission.
Dr. Angela El-Adas
Ghana AIDS Commission