UNAIDS Warns Against HIV Explosion

Girmay Haile

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) in Ghana has warned of a possible HIV pandemic if the current trend of increased new infections among urban communities are not curbed.

The Country Director of UNAIDS, Girmay Haile, who gave the caution said available data indicates that new infections of HIV and AIDS among the middle class and urban working population in Ghana are increasing at an alarming rate.

He said data from the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) 2014 of the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) showed that married couples and students, especially those in the university, were the groups which had the most unprotected sex but were not willing to know their HIV status.

Mr Haile said that new infections among key populations, including sex workers and truck drivers, had now reduced due to the numerous campaigns those targeted populations received.

However, the urbanites are tripling their risk of HIV infection by not knowing their HIV status, and having unprotected sex with multiple partners.

The Survey

Respondents of the GDHS survey were asked questions on HIV prevention, awareness of modes of HIV transmission and behaviours that could prevent the spread of HIV.

The results of the survey which had respondents aged between 15 and 49 years showed that 78 percent of the male respondents and 52 percent of the female respondents had never been tested for HIV.

One percent of the women reported that they had had two or more partners in the past 12 months.

Among the women who had two or more partners in the past 12 months, only 11 percent reported using a condom during their last sexual intercourse.

Fourteen percent of the men aged between 15 and 49 reported that they had two or more partners in the past 12 months, with 19 percent revealing that they used a condom during their last sexual intercourse.

The country director, however, believes that with a new focus on the new high risk population in urban areas and cities by all relevant stakeholders, the country can avert the pending health crisis.

“Education and campaign on the disease should be directed towards this population,” he said.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri