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Upper West leads in HIV prevalence rate in the north

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The Upper West Region recorded an HIV prevalence rate of 0.83 per cent; the highest in the five regions of the north.

The region is also 12th highest nationwide, according to the 2018 National Estimates and Projections for HIV/AIDs.

The data indicates that Lawra District had the highest prevalence rate of 2.02 per cent followed by Nandom District with 1.50 per cent, while Lambussie District recorded the least prevalence rate of 0.22 per cent in the region.

It pegged the national average at 1.69 per cent; an estimated population of 334,714; with 19,931 estimated new cases of infection and 14,181 estimated aids related deaths.

The Ahafo Region recorded the highest prevalence rate of about 2.66 per cent with Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) coverage of 19.74 per cent, while North East Region recorded the least prevalence rate of 0.39 per cent.

The Upper West Regional Technical Coordinator for the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) in Wa, Dramani Yakubu, said in an interview that though the prevalence rate for the region was not high as compared to the national average, it was still a source of worry.

Photo caption: Mr. Dramani Yakubu, the Upper West Regional Technical Coordinator for the GAC

He explained that in the first half of 2019, about 35,716 people were tested with 313 people testing positive.

The GAC Upper West Region Technical Coordinator said all 313 were referred to ART centres but 268 reported and were put on treatment.

He disclosed that the region recorded 248 new infections in 2018 with ART coverage of 41.9 per cent, saying that, the low coverage was inimical to achieving the 90-90-90 global target for HIV/AIDS by the end of 2020.

The 90-90-90 target required that by 2021, 90 per cent of the population should test and know their status, 90 per cent of those tested should be put on treatment and 90 per cent of those on treatment should have viral suppression.

According to him, some people who were tested positive did not go for treatment due to factors such as fear of stigmatisation.

Mr. Yakubu therefore urged the public to desist from stigmatising and discriminating against People Living with HIV/AIDS.

He mentioned public sensitisation, condom promotion and distribution as well as provider-initiated testing at the OPD, as some of the activities they had embarked on to reduce the prevalence rate.

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