Increasing high-risk behaviour such as having unprotected anal and vaginal sex with HIV positive partners is leading to the rise in new HIV infections, averaging 21,000 cases annually in the last five years.
Dr Kyeremeh Atuahene, Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), said the new infections continued to occur in high numbers among adolescent girls and young women as they accounted for 20 per cent of new HIV infections in 2021.
The event was also used to launch the 20th-anniversary celebration of the GAC.
Statistics indicate that a total of 23,495 people tested positive for HIV in the first half of this year.
The Director General said despite efforts at strengthening coordination in the fight against the disease, Ghanaians had become overly complacent with HIV.
He said while high-risk behaviours had become overly pervasive in Ghanaian society, HIV prevention protocols were least respected at the individual level.
“We need to arrest this situation by ensuring that every individual takes up the responsibility of protecting themselves from HIV by reducing sexual partners, correct and consistent use of condoms and testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases,” he said.
Dr Kyeremeh Atuahene said the AIDS response was at a crucial period as the world battled COVID-19 amidst economic crises and called for support from all.
He said challenges like high levels of stigma and discrimination against Persons Living with HIV, and those at risk and inadequate funding continued to hold Ghana back from achieving the right scheme of infection prevention, treatment, care, and support services that were necessary to end AIDS.
“Now is the time for all of us to join forces to pursue the HIV elimination agenda,” he said.
Dr Kwaku Afriyie, Minister for Environment Science and Technology, who spoke on behalf of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo- Addo, said stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV remained a major hindrance to the national response
He called on all to commit to working harder and acting faster to achieve set targets.
The Ghana AIDS Commission has since its establishment in 2002 spearheaded the use of evidence-informed participatory approaches to policymaking.
The theme for the celebration is “Twenty years of Multi-Sectoral Response to HIV and AIDS in Ghana accelerating progress to end AIDS.”
World AIDS Day instituted in 1988 presents an opportunity for the world to unite in the fight against HIV and show support for people living with HIV.
This year’s celebration is on the theme: “Equalize A call to action, a forceful appeal to the government, civil society, private sector and individuals to work together to remove all forms of inequalities that perpetuates the spread of the HIV epidemic”.