Ghana has recorded a consistent declining trends in general adult prevalence of HIV over the past decade from 3.6 per cent in 2003 to 1.3 per cent in 2013.
This represents a 60 per cent decline Dr Angela El-Adas, Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), said on Wednesday.
She said the relatively low HIV prevalence of 1.3 per cent translated into 224,488 Persons Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) in Ghana, including some 34,557 children, that is 15.4 per cent of the total population of PLWA.
Speaking at the opening of Annual Partnership forum of the Ghana AIDS Commission in Accra, Dr El-Adas said through targeted preventions strategies, the country had seen a consistent reduction in new HIV infections from baseline of 25,869 in 2009 to 7,812 new infections last year showing that 50 per cent target in National Strategic Plan (NSP) had already been achieved.
This trend is also reflected among youth aged 15 to 24, an age group of particular interest, she said.
Stakeholders attending the two-day forum are to review the progress of the GAC over the past year and to build consensus for the year ahead.
Participants would also galvanise technical and financial support for the final phase of the National Strategic Plan 2011-20015, as consultations continue for the post 2015 era.
The theme for the forum is “Getting to Zero: Accelerating the National Response towards the MDG”.
Dr El-Adas said under treatment, coverage of PLWA who received antiretroviral treatment ART increased from 47.4 in 2011 to 60per cent in 3013
However, she said, despite efforts at containing the disease, some people continue to die from AIDS, but there was a 30 per cent reduction in annual AIDS deaths from 16,320 in 2010 to 10,074 in 2013.
The Director General said through collective commitment and perseverance Ghana continued to pursue zero tolerance for stigma and discrimination and that a stigma Index study which documented the various experiences of HIV-related stigma and discrimination against PLHIV.
She said evidence generated from the study would be used to finalise an Anti-Stigma Strategy which would identify key approaches that could be employed to address stigma coupled with educational drive of the Heart-to-Heart ambassadors.
On challenges facing the Commission, Dr El-Adas said low condom usage and shortages of some HIV commodities including test kits and reagents were still issues which required full attention.
She however said partnership with religious leaders, MDAs and development partners would be strengthened to ensure success in the national HIV response.
Vice-President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur in an address read on his behalf, commended stakeholders for playing equally important roles to make Ghana one of the model countries as far as responding to HIV was concerned.
He said the government would continue with its high level advocacy on issues related to HIV and provide the political leadership required to ensure that “we achieve a situation where HIV and AIDS are virtually eliminated in Ghana”.
Mr Amissah-Arthur expressed the hope that the forum would come out with clear directions on how the country could accelerate the national response towards the achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals 4, 5, 6 which was to reduce child mortality, improve maternal mortality and halt and reverse the spread of HIV respectively.
He expressed the hope that the meeting would agree on the steps that needed to be taken to achieve the post 2015 direction of ensuring that at least 90 per cent of Ghanaians know their HIV status and 90 per cent of Ghanaians who are diagnosed HIV positive particularly women are on sustained anti-retroviral treatment. GNA