There is an indication that Ghana may not achieve the 90-90-90 HIV and AIDS target by 2020, with one and half years to go, as it has not made any significant impact in people’s status, ART treatment and viral suppression.
Statistics from the GAC shows that as at now, Ghana achieved 55.3 percent in the first 90, 61.2 percent in the second 90 and 64.3 percent in the third 90, with key challenges such as stigma, discrimination, abandoning of treatment for prayer camps and false claims of cure.
The 90-90-90 is a goal introduced by the United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS in 2013 and the target is to achieve 90 per cent of people who are HIV infected and diagnose to know their status, 90 per cent of those diagnosed will be on anti-retroviral (ART) treatment and 90 percent of those on the ART will be virally suppressed.
This strategy is an attempt to get the HIV epidemic under control and is based on the principal universal “test and treat” approach which ensures that once diagnosed early and treatment initiated, viral load is suppressed and therefore onward transmission of HIV will be prevented and so will impact on the prevalence.
This came to light at an orientation programme for Regional Committees (RCs) of the GAC in the Volta, Greater Accra and Eastern Regions to sensitise them on their roles and the need for the Regional Ministers who were chairpersons of the RCs to strengthen their oversight roles on HIV and AIDS activities in their respective regions.
Dr Fred Nana Poku, Director Technical Services, GAC in a presentation said Ghana was “staying” in HIV response due to several factors including; setting global indicators, meaning that Ghana was not doing too well in all its interventions and activities geared towards the 90-90-90 goal.
He said issues of stigma and discrimination were huge barriers preventing people infected from accessing the ART treatment, abandoning treatment and declared as a lost to follow-ups and the increase in new infections in the last sentinel survey, especially in the youth remained a challenge in meeting the target by 2020.
Dr Poku, noted that there were 20 districts in the country including; Lower Manya, Upper-Manya, Atiwa West, Yilo Krobo and Asuogyaman all in the Eastern Region and others in the Bono, Ahafo and Greater Accra regions which had prevalence way and above the 1.69 per cent 2018 national prevalence.
However, the Technical Director said despite the fear that Ghana might not meet the target by 2020, “the hope is that we know the barriers and we have the roadmap as a country to meet the target in the years ahead, maybe beyond the 2020”.
Dr Poku disclosed that as part of the roadmap, GAC is considering introducing self-testing kits of HIV in Ghana by the end of 2019 and plans advanced to set up the viral load testing machines at all facilities to improve access and remove the delays in getting prompt results.
He said there were regional challenges looking at the districts with the high prevalence above the national one and therefore urged the Regional Ministers (RMs) who were the chairpersons of the RCs to take a critical look at the specific problems pertaining to their respective regions and address them accordingly.
Mr Kyeremah Atuahene, Acting Director-General of the GAC, called on the RMs to demand reports from the district committees and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to ensure they were working to meet targets.
He said most of the activities on HIV and AIDS went down, due to dwindling global funds and therefore called for the need for a national fund to embark on the activities earmarked to ensure that the 90-90-90- global goal was met.