HIV AIDS in Ghana is a serious concern for the government and other stakeholders. A healthy nation is a working nation. It is therefore a reason for worry when a disease as serious as HIV/AIDS continues to spread instead of decreasing. This is alarming for any government as it translates to a sick nation which could affect the working force of the country if something is not done. When the workers are affected, the economy suffers negatively and this may impact the overall growth of the state. As such, every country will look into issues of health and Ghana is no exception.
It is the aim of the government and other related organizations to ensure that HIV AIDS in Ghana 2018 goes down. It would be considered an achievement if updated reports indicate that new infections have reduced over time. Based on previous reports, it appears as though the efforts of eradicating the disease in 5 years were being defeated. This follows the 70.15% increase in infections over period of 12 months. In this period, the number of infections rose from 12,000 people in 2015 to a whooping 20,148 in 2016. This is alarming and a serious cause of concern as the National AIDS Control Programme report indicated.
History of HIV AIDS in Ghana
The 1st of December marks the official day that people celebrate World’s AIDS day which is an opportunity for people globally to come together against AIDS. It is also the time that people show support for those living with HIV as well as remember those that have died from the disease. This is significant especially because the day is drawing near and will be a chance for people to reflect about the disease and its impact on society.
When the first person in Ghana was diagnosed with HIV back in 1986, not much was taken into account as this case was treated as mere and ordinary health issue. However, with the passage of time, a lot of attention has been given to it especially because of the effects that comes with it. Sadly, statistics show that more than 50,000 Ghanaians have died from the epidemic since it was declared. The spread of the disease was rapid such that by the end of 2003, more than 76, 139 people were in record as infected although more than 395,000 people were infected since a majority of them were undocumented.
This may still not be a true representation of the facts considering that more than 60% of Ghanaians living in rural areas depend on traditional practitioners. This means that numerous cases go unrecorded and that there could be many more cases of infection that could have been present but unknown. In addition to this, the lack of many Ghanaians knowing their status also contributed to inaccurate facts.
HIV AIDS in Ghana 2017-2018
According to the 2017 HIV Sentinel Survey (HSS) and Estimates Report which was jointly announced by both the National AIDS and STI Control Programme (NACP), the greater Accra and Ashanti regions have the highest rates of AIDS prevalence in Ghana. The two regions replaced Volta Region and Brong Ahafo which were highly ranked in 2016. According to the 2017 report, the highest ranked regions both had a prevalence of 3.2 percent, followed by the Western region with 3.2 percent. The Volta region came fourth with 2.3 percent. The regions that followed thereafter are Eastern Region, Brong Ahafo, Central Region, and Upper West and Upper East taking regions. These took the fifth to ninth position respectively. The last region with the lowest prevalence was the Northern region with 0.6%.
This report was concluded after a study that captured 18, 711 samples across the country was done. The study targeted 40 sentinel sites whose locations were spread strategically in 23 urban areas, 17 rural areas and 69 antenatal clinics. This took 4 months to complete from September 2017 to December 2017. According to HSS outcome in 2017, 4 regions in Ghana recorded higher prevalence of the disease than the national median which was 2.1 percent. The above mentioned statistics on HIV rate in Ghana 2017 are worrisome since, instead of registering a decline, there is a significant increase.
On the brighter side though, it appears that the prevalence in women attending antenatal clinics has reduced. However, there is a serious concern among the youth aged 15 years to 24 years. The possibility for new infections rose from 1.1 percent to 1.5 within a year. It is alarming considering that this is the productive age. This report continues to be a useful source of information. It has been used for about 2 decades to plan and crating policy interventions. Chances are that the same statistics represent the reality about HIV in Ghana 2018.
Effects of HIV/AIDS in Ghana
With HIV rate in Ghana 2018 being a reality that is not going away, stakeholders need to take prompt action to turn things around. This is because the disease is causing more damage and if nothing is done it can only get worse. It is important for prevention to be emphasized so as to discourage and avoid new cases of infections from being registered. To appreciate the need of taking quick action, it is necessary to know how HIV/AIDS directly or indirectly affect Ghanaians. The following are some of the effects of this disease.
- The first burden is on the health sector. HIV/AIDS patients tend to utilize a lot of hospital resources meaning that other ailments may have to be prioritized less. In addition to this, medical practitioners are also straining as they need more training to administer drugs and take care of patients.
- Families get dissolved when AIDS kills parents. When this happens, children are left without people to take care of them. In most cases they are spread among relatives and the idea of having a family is dissolved. In most cases, some of these children grow without love and are thus scarred emotionally for life. Sometimes the children are forced to fend for themselves in destitution when relatives refuse to step in.
- More often than not children have to quit school. The burden of taking care of the sick may cause serious financial strains on the family which means that school becomes a secondary priority.
- Women may also be forced to turn to prostitution in a bid to fend for their families in the absence of their husbands. When males die as a result of the disease, there tends to be strain in the households and the cycle of infection continues as dependents turn to providers. In the process of fending for their families through prostitution, these women contribute in spreading the disease to other people.
- With most of the infected Ghanaians aged between 15 to 49 years, it goes without saying that the labour force is affected and in turn productivity reduces. Infected people cannot work optimally. Poor quality workforce leads to poor results and an overall economic decline. The impact of this disease therefore is felt in the entire household as providers fail to meet their roles effectively.
- With reduced labor force, the government is also affected since income is reduced. When this happens, government income also declines. As a government without people to pay tax, the revenues to be used for development are minimized.
With the understanding of the possible effects of HIV in Ghana, it is important for the issue to be addressed. HIV AIDS in Ghana is a serious issue especially if the stats increase in this prevalence instead of an expected decline. All stakeholders need to come together to fight the spread and discourage new infections.