Globally, it is believed that HIV originated in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo around 1920 when HIV crossed species from chimpanzees to humans. Up until the 1980s, we do not know how many people were infected with HIV or developed AIDS. HIV was unknown and transmission was not accompanied by noticeable signs or symptoms.

While sporadic cases of AIDS were documented prior to 1970, Avert has reported that, available data suggests the current epidemic started in the mid- to late 1970s. By 1980, HIV may have already spread to five continents (North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Australia). In this period, between 100,000 and 300,000 people could have already been infected.

HIV is a virus that targets and alters the immune system, increasing the risk and impact of other infections and diseases. Without treatment, the infection might progress to an advanced disease stage called AIDS.

However, Medical News Today has explained that, “Modern advances in treatment means that, people living with HIV in countries with good access to healthcare very rarely develop AIDS once they are receiving treatment.

The life expectancy of a person who carries the HIV virus is now approaching that of a person that tests negative for the virus, as long as they adhere to a combination of medications called antiretroviral therapy (ART) on an ongoing basis.

A Kaiser Permanente study in 2016 suggested that between 1996 and 2016, the gap in life expectancy between people who are HIV positive and HIV negative closed from 44 years to 12 years.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also advises that a person living with HIV can resume a high quality of life with treatment, and that 20.9 million people worldwide were receiving ART as of mid-2017.”

In March 1986, the first case of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) was reported in Ghana. In January 1991, a more detailed report on AIDS in Ghana appeared in which 107 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive cases were said to have been recorded in 1987.

Three hundred and thirty-three people were identified as HIV positive by the end of March 1988, and there was a further increase to two thousand, seven hundred and forty four by the end of April 1990. Of the April 1990 number, 1,226 were reported to have contracted AIDS.

According to WHO annual reports, the disease continued to spread in the country. During 1991 the komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital reported about fifty AIDS cases each month.

Since then, Ghana has made great strides to achieve the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) 90-90-90 targets of ensuring that all persons infected with HIV were tested to know their status, placed on treatment, and as well as all those receiving ARTs attained viral suppression.

In as much as the country has put in more effort to achieve the set objective by 2020, there is still more to be done.

In line with that, the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) has called for a concerted effort through stakeholder engagements in order to mitigate challenges of stigmatisation, non-adherence to Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART), and Behaviour Change Communication.

In a presentation to brief the media on the 2018 national HIV estimates and projections in Accra on Wednesday 17th July, 2019, the Ag. Director-General of the Ghana Aids Commission (GAC), Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene, indicated that, an estimated 335,000 Ghanaians were living with HIV, out of which only 185,000 were aware of their status, and the remaining 150,000 were with no knowledge about it, which means they could infect other people easily. However, only 113,000 were put on ARTs.

Breaking it down further, he said of the total number of Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV), 305,200 were adults between ages of 15 years and above, which is 91%, whereas 29,514 were children from zero to 15 years, which also represents 9%. And then 117,199 were males, representing 35% and 217,515 females, representing 65%.

There was also an estimated 19,931 newly infected people with HIV, where 16,614 representing 83%, were adults aged 15 and above, whereas 3,317 representing 17%, were children age zero to 14 years.
5,532 made up of youth aged between 15 and 24 years, representing 28%, males were 1,175, which is 22% and 4,382 females also representing 78.9%.

Again, Mr. Atuahene, said an estimated 14,181 AIDS-related deaths were accounted, out of which 11,412 representing 80% were adults between the ages of 15 and above, and the remaining 2,769, representing 20% were among children between 0 to 14 years.

According Mr. Atuahene, diverse sources were used to generate data for the spectrum, which brought the total national adult prevalence of HIV to approximately 1.7%, as compared to the 2.0% recorded in 2014 in the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS).

He also emphasized on the fact that, the commission was going to put in more effort to advocate for the care and support of HIV and AIDS-related orphans, because Ghana has the right policies, programmes and human resources to offer the required services to fight the disease.

On his part, Mr. Isaiah Doe Kwao, the Data Quality Assurance Manager at the Ghana Aids Commission (GAC), gave an estimated number of 16,421 pregnant women who needed Prevention-of-Mother-to-Child-Transmission (PMTCT), but then only 12,950 of them were able to receive ARTs for protecting their babies from getting infected. And there were also 3,317 new child infections due to MTCT.

He also noted that, this happens to be the first time Ghana has generated sub-national estimates with estimated regional and district HIV prevalence rates, where Greater Accra Region topped with as high as approximately 77,132, followed by Ashanti Region with 75,675 and Eastern with 41,089, in that order with PLHIV.

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