Ghana: HIV Infection to Move Up By 2015

Published: February 6, 2012

Despite the ongoing extensive anti-HIV/AIDS campaigns, the total number of people living with HIV in Ghana is projected to increase to 317,872 by 2015 from 272,780 in 2010, states the Ghana AIDS Commission in its National HIV& AIDS Strategic Plan 2011-2015.

But the good news is that deaths arising from AIDS are expected to decline in the three year. In 2010, the estimated number of AIDS related deaths was 18,479 but is projected to decrease to about 15,618 deaths in 2015.

According to the strategic plan, the key determinants of the spread of HIV in the country are revealed in studies such as the Ghana Demographic Health Survey of 2008, Modes of Transmission Study (2009) and the HIV Epidemic Analysis of 2010.

The determinants of HIV include the marginalisation of Most at Risk Populations (MARPs). The MARPs include female sex workers, men who have sex with men and injecting drug users. The MARPs have difficulties accessing HIV preventive services due to stigmatisation and discrimination, social hostility, fear of job loss and families, and "eleven verbal physical violence."

"Legal barriers also hinder service providers from reaching these groups given the criminalization of MARPs activities. The size of these populations is also not known and services may not be reaching a significant number of them as a result, the MARPs continue to contribute to a significant proportion of new HIV infections," the strategic plan elaborated.

Another determinant of HIV is low condom use, indicates the plan. Although the awareness of HIV prevention among the general populations and MARPs is high, this knowledge has not adequately been translated to behavioral change. The DHS found that 25% and 45% of females and males respectively are reported to have used condoms during high risk sex behaviour. Low condom use has been attributed to socio-cultural stereotypes and beliefs, especially among the youth and older people.

Multiple concurrent sexual partners is a determinant that the plan identified. The DHS data shows that men tend to have more multiple sexual partners than women. One per cent of women reported having more than nine partners in the last 12 months during DHS compared to 1.1% during DHS of 2003. "On the other hand, the percentage of men reporting having more than 2 partners increased from 9.9% (DHS2003) to 11.4% (DHS2008)".

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