The HIV prevalence rate in the Kumasi Metropolis increased from 2.8 per cent in 2015 to 3.4 per cent in 2016, making Kumasi the third city in the country with a high HIV prevalence rate.
The metropolis, therefore, tops the Ashanti Regional HIV prevalence rate, taking over from the mining town of Obuasi which had over the years topped the region.
Addressing the regional dissemination workshop in Kumasi, the Regional Technical Coordinator of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), Ms Olivia Graham, attributed the rise in the prevalence rate to low condom use and risky lifestyles by the people, adding that other factors such as elaborate funerals and the fact that the town had a high rate of commercial activities also contributed to the problem.
She said four sentinel sites had been used for the region over the years and these are Obuasi, Kumasi, Mampong and Amansie West.
According to her, Obuasi’s prevalence rate might have reduced as a result of the closure of the Obuasi Mine which had reduced economic activities in the town.
She said although the region had recorded a drop in its prevalence rate over the years, the trend seemed to be reversing and there was the need to step up efforts to stabilise the gains made and improve on them.
Currently, the Ashanti Regional HIV prevalence rate stood at 2.6, almost at par with the Eastern Region with the same rate, and Volta and Brong Ahafo regions, both of which have the national highest rate of 2.7 per cent.
According to Ms Graham, there was the need to promote the correct and constant use of condoms among sexually active members of the population and also increase education on the menace of the epidemic through peer education.
Again, she said all members of the society should be included in all the intervention, programme calling for more collaboration between health professionals and herbalists.
She proposed that herbalists should be educated on the basic facts on HIV so they could be in a position to identify such patients and refer them to health centres for attention.
The Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, Dr Mokowa Blay Adu-Gyamfi, called on all to successfully support the implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2016-2020 of the commission.
She said the country had adopted the UNAIDS 90-90-90 fast track treatment targets as the cornerstone for the NSP.
The 90-90-90 refers to getting 90 per cent of all people living with HIV to know their HIV status by 2020; having 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection to receive sustained antiretroviral therapy by 2020 and “90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy to have viral suppression by 2020.”