Dr Stephen Ayisi Addo, Programme Manager, of the National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NACP), has cautioned the public, especially the youth, against risky sexual behaviour that may expose them to contracting HIV.
“As much as possible shun risky sexual behaviours,” Dr Ayisi Addo stated and urged the public to be bold in knowing their HIV status, noting that, “being aware of one’s status is key to decision-making for positive living with or without HIV.”
Dr Ayisi Addo gave the caution at the pre-launch event of a pragmatic national campaign, focusing on HIV Self-Test (HIVST) kits at the Ghana News Agency Dialogue Platform.
He expressed concern that about 1,422 children in Ghana tested positive for HIV by the third quarter of last year -January to September 2022 out of which a total of 693 were boys while 729 were girls.
The regional data breakdown indicates that 279 were recorded in Ashanti Region; 237 cases in Greater Accra Region; 232 in Eastern Region; 118 in Bono Region; 96 cases in the Volta Region; 93 cases were recorded in Central Region; and 68 cases in Bono East Region.
Others were 62 cases in Western North; 47 positive cases were recorded in Ahafo Region; 42 cases in Upper West Region; and 41 cases recorded in the Northern Region.
The rest were; 33 cases recorded in Oti Region; 30 in Western Region; 20 cases in Upper East Region; 13 cases in Savannah Region; and eleven in the North East Region.
On the HIV Self-Test Kits, Dr Ayisi Addo explained that a pack contained an instruction manual for use written in both English and Twi, a test device, a preservative, a developer vial, and a test stand.
He said the instruction manual also has simple eleven steps to follow with graphic pictures to guide the individual to self-administer without the help of any other person.
He added that the HIV self-test kits had been made available in some designated hospitals and pharmacies and would be scaled up to ensure easy accessibility, convenience, and confidential use by the general public.
He said it would significantly improve HIV testing services towards universal health coverage.
Dr Ayisi Addo demonstrated the use of the HIVST kits to the Ghana News Agency Tema Regional Team and invited them to champion the Advocacy for its use ahead of the national launch and campaign in the year ahead-2023.
Mr Francis Ameyibor, Ghana News Agency Tema Regional Manager noted that knowledge about your HIV status would ensure a healthy lifestyle whether positive or negative, “one must live with a sense of responsibility.”
“Persons whose test results are negative should receive counselling to enable them to remain free of HIV, while those who tested positive must be encouraged to seek treatment as the Ghana Health Service provides treatment to persons living with HIV by offering them free Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs”.