Over 5,000 15-24 year olds infected with HIV in Ghana in 2020

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Ghana’s effort to end the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) scourge by 2030 is under serious threat due to high new infections among young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

5,211 young people 15-24 years infected in 2020
Figures from the Ghana Aids Commission (GAC) revealed that out of the 18,928 new HIV infections in 2020, a total of 5,211 are young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

This figure represents 28% of all new infections in 2020.

4,325 females, 886 males for ages 15-24 years
Of the young people between the ages of 15 and 24 infected with HIV, 4,325 representing 83% are females, while 886 representing 17% are males.

18,928 new infections recorded in 2020
The GAC report indicates that out of the 18,928 new infections recorded in 2020, adults of 25 years and above constitute 10,032, representing 53%.

3,596 children infected in 2020
Similarly, the total number of new infections of children from ages 0-14 mother to child transmission was 3,596, representing 19%.

The Director General (DG) of GAC, Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene, told journalists that infections among young people pose a big threat to the fight against the HIV-AIDS scourge.

Adult men and women infecting younger ones
According to him, the 15 to 24-year-olds are getting infected by having sex with old men.

Young people chasing adults for financial gains
While some of the older men and women take advantage of the vulnerabilities of some of the young people, many of the young people voluntarily have sex with older men and women for financial gains.

346,120 living with HIV in Ghana
He said the total HIV population in the country as at the end of 2020 stands at 346,120 and the prevalence rate is 1.68%.

Gender of persons living of HIV
Out of this number, 228,439 representing 66% are females, while 117,681 which constitute 34% are males.

92% of all persons living with HIV are 15 years and above
A total of 318,430 representing 92% of all persons living with HIV are adults 15 years and above.

27,690 children aged zero to 14 living with HIV
On the other hand, 27,690 of all persons living with HIV are children aged zero to 14 years and this represents 8%.

12,758 AIDS related deaths in 2020
Mr Atuahene stated that the total AIDS-related deaths last year were 12,758.

He noted that 9,796 representing 76.7% of those who died were adults 15 years.

2,961 children AIDS related deaths in 2020
On the other hand, children aged between zero and 14 years who died last year was 2,961 and that constitutes 23.2%.

33.2% ART coverage for children
According to the report, antiretroviral therapy (ART) coverage for children is 33.2%.

Ashanti tops HIV population
The regional breakdowns of HIV population are Ashanti -73,245, Greater Accra – 70,855, Eastern – 47,866, Western – 25,620, Central – 24,881, Volta -20,949, Bono – 19,173, Bono East – 14,273, Western North – 10,619, Ahafo -8,405, Upper East – 7,953, Northern – 6,941, Oti – 5,877, Upper West – 5,725, Savannah – 3,135 and North East – 2,122.

Bono tops regional prevalence rate
The regional breakdowns of prevalence rate are Bono – 2.5%, Eastern – 2.2%, Ahafo – 2.1%, Bono East – 2%, Ashanti – 1.8%, Greater Accra – 1.8%, Western -1.7%, Western North – 1.7%, Volta – 1.6%, Central – 1.5%, Oti – 1.2%, Upper West – 1.1%, Upper East – 1%, Savannah – 0.9%, Northern – 0.6% and North East – 0.6%.

Bono East has highest ART coverage
In respect of antiretroviral therapy (ART) coverage, the regional figures are Bono East – 68%, Upper East – 67%, Bono – 66%, Western – 63%, Greater Accra – 62%, Upper West – 62%, Eastern – 61%, Ashanti – 60%, Volta – 59%, Northern – 58%, Western North – 56%, North East – 53%, Ahafo – 52%, Savannah – 51%, Oti – 51% and Central – 48%.

The top five districts in respect of highest adult HIV prevalence among age 15 to 24 are Lower Manya Krobo – 6% (Eastern Region), Upper Manya Krobo -3.5% (Eastern Region), Dormaa East – 3.4% (Bono), Tano South – 3.2% (Ahafo) and Asuogyaman – 3.1% (Eastern).

On the other hand, the bottom five districts in respect of lowest adult HIV prevalence are Kumbugu – 0.3%, Nanton – 0.3%, Mion – 0.3%, Tolon – 0.2% and Sangnarigu – 0.2%.

All the bottom five districts are in the Northern Region.

The prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) ART coverage stands at 71.6%.

Mr Atuahene said the vision of National Strategic Plan 2021-2025 is to accelerate progress to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

He explained that the goal is to achieve epidemic control and the fast-track targets of 95-95-95 by 2025.

95-95-95 strategy
He said the ambitious 95-95-95 strategy aims to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 by achieving 63.2% diagnosed among all people living with HIV (PLHIV), 95% on antiretroviral therapy (ART) among diagnosed and 73% virally suppressed (VS) among treated.

Mr Atuahene stated that the objective of prevention is to reduce new HIV infections by 85% in general population, key populations, adolescent girls and young women and eliminate mother-to-child transmission.

Early infant diagnosis figures since 2012
He gave early infant diagnosis (EID) figures as 2016 -12%, 2017 – 8%, 2018 -7%, 2019 – 8% and 2020 – 7.2%.

ART coverage among pregnant women since 2016
ART coverage among pregnant women to ensure the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) includes 2016 – 50%, 2017- 67%, 2018 – 83%, 2019 -87% but dropped to 80.2% last year.

Impact of COVID-19 restrictions
Mr Atuahene attributed the drop to COVID-19 restrictions which affected the administration of ART to pregnant women.

Persons on ART since 2016
The figures for persons living with HIV who have been on ART treatment in the past six years are 2016 -100,665, 2017-125,667, 2018 – 113,171, 2019 -153,901 and 2020 – 208,811.

The national HIV testing coverage in the past six years has been 2016 – 40%, 2017 – 48%, 2018 – 64%, 2019 – 1575 and 2020 -128%.

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