Ghana?s HIV prevalence has stabilised over the last five years and is currently at an all time low of 1.37 percent, Dr Angela El-Adas , Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, said on Friday.

Ghana has also recorded declines in prevalence among key populations and significant reductions in new infections among the youth, pregnant women and children, she said.

She was speaking at the third National HIV and AIDS Research Conference (NHARCON) on the theme: ?Utilizing Strategic Information for an Effective national response.?

It would bring together implementing partners, development partners, policymakers and all stakeholders in HIV and AIDS National response.

The conference would also provide a platform for stakeholders to share formation and experiences, discuss results of key research and examine implication for improving the quality of the national HIV and AIDS response and disseminate findings from relevant HIV and AIDS research undertaken in Ghana among others.

The GAC Director General said central to the sustained success was the adoption of an effective national strategic plan which was based on sound evidence and noted that the use of empirical evidence informed planning, policy, programming and management of Ghana?s HIV response.

This, she said, had been pursued through strong partnerships with the media civil society among others towards the development of the single evidence- based and result oriented strategic plan for HIV and AIDS, which currently guides HIV response.

Dr El-Adas said the approach had resulted in the strategic investment within priority impact areas with objectives to reduce new HIV infections by 50 percent by 2015, with elimination of mother to child transmission (MTCT) of HIV from 30 percent to less than 5 percent by 2015, expanding quality treatment for Persons Living with HIV and mitigating the effects of HIV by eliminating stigma and discrimination.

She, however, said efforts to achieve the said objectives could not be done without the provision of high- impact HIV prevention services to key populations such as sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM), prisoners and people who inject themselves with drugs (PWID).

?Therefore we will continue to scale up HIV prevention services and achieve 80 percent of key populations,? she said and added that ?the need for a direct linkage between research and the national response has been exigent?.

She expressed GAC?s appreciation to the media and civil society partners, who raise relevant issues for discussions asking pertinent questions that draw attention to gaps in the HIV response as well funding partners,- government, development partners and the private sector whose investment in capital intensive but necessary research have helped develop and implement a national research agenda.

Dr Celia Woodfill, Country Director of Centre for Disease Control, said Ghana?s HIV response a decade ago was to fight HIV and AIDS from reaching epidemic proportions and that had stabilised prevalence rate over the past five years and had currently reached an all-time low of 1.37 percent.

This she attributed to the adoption of an effective national strategic plan based on sound evidence.

Mr Girmay Haile, UNAID country Director, noted that not only was evidence needed but bringing together key stakeholders to discuss and brainstorm on issues was very apt.

He noted that areas that was lacking in the fight was stigma and discrimination which had the potential to increase the epidemic and added that there was need for to have a stigma index and harness support both locally and internationally eliminate stigma.

Source: GNA

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