Ghana: 'HIV Infection Among Young People Worrying'

5 December 2019

The Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), an NGO, has expressed worry about the high rate of Human Immune Virus (HIV) infection among young people, saying the situation must urgently be addressed, if Ghana is to make headway in ending HIV and AIDS by 2030.

According to the Executive Director of HFFG, Mrs Cecilia Lodonu-Senoo, data from the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), estimated that the adolescent HIV population (between 10-19 years) stood at 21,111, with an estimated 2,062 new infections recorded in 2018.

As Ghana commemorated World AIDS Day, which fell on December 1, 2019, she stressed the need for treatment literacy and dedicated adolescent friendly services for those living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

According to Mrs Lodonu-Senoo, the youth constituted a growing share of people living with HIV worldwide, a situation which she noted called for empowerment of Ghana's young vulnerable group to enable them to get involved in the HIV national response.

"We cannot as a country say we are achieving the 90-9-90 targets and ending HIV by 2030, if adolescents living with HIV are left out from critical decision-making processes concerning their health due to stigma," she stated.

Mrs Lodonu-Senoo said young people needed to be part of the design, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of HIV services and activities related to prevention, treatment, care and support of people affected by HIV.

Globally, the United Nations (UNAIDS) in 2018 estimated that 510,000 young people between ages 10 to 24 were infected with HIV; of this, 190,000 were adolescents between the ages 10 and 19.

Ghana on the other hand, has a national HIV prevalence rate of 1.6 per cent and an HIV population of 334, 713, according to 2018 data from the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP).

"Again, despite intensive education and laudable zero-stigma initiatives in Ghana over the years, most of them continue to face gross discernment from a section of the population," Mrs Lodonu-Senoo said.

She used the occasion to call on government to prioritise and increase domestic resources for health and invest in the general health of the youth to complement the dwindling donor funds.

"Let us end AIDS by empowering young people to make the difference, because HIV intervention for young people without them is a mirage," Mrs Senoo said.

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