The Manager National AIDS/STI Control Programme, Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo, has bemoaned the increasing rate of new HIV infections among pregnant women.
He explained the current surge could be attributed to the increased confidence in fertility among persons living with HIV.
He indicated that data analysis in a Sentinel Survey conducted in 2020 revealed that women who had been pregnant more than once had a higher prevalence compared to first pregnancies partly because of their confidence that they could have healthy babies.
According to him, the prevalence among general antenatal care (ANC) clients was 2% and among those with Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis among others was 10% in 2020.
Data from the HIV Estimates and AIDS Projections report also revealed that 5,200 new infections of HIV were recorded in children 0-14 out of a total population of about 19,000 in 2020 and out of the number, 82% were females including pregnant women.
The current data shows that 346,120 people are leaving with HIV as of the end of 2020, with 66 percent of the figure being females and about eight percent children aged 0-14.
Dr. Ayisi Addo was speaking at the seventh edition of the stakeholder engagement and worker appreciation seminar organized by the Tema Regional Office of the Ghana News Agency said.
The stakeholder engagement is a platform rolled out for state and non-state actors to address national issues and serves as a motivational mechanism to recognise the editorial contribution of reporters towards national development in general and growth and promotion of the Tema GNA as the industrial news hub.
“Because of the elimination of mother to child transmission programme where certain interventions are given to a positive mother to prevent transmission to baby, they are giving birth to more negative babies, which is good for the HIV control Programme,” he said.
He noted that to deal with the disturbing trend, family planning services and education must be intensified to prevent unintended pregnancies among persons living with HIV, and the need to empower vulnerable females to be more assertive in dealing with potential sources of infection.
He further disclosed that NACP was working with collaborative agencies, the Ministries of Gender and Social Protection, Education and Health to help reduce the surge.
He said that “when you take emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy, it does not deal with STIs and HIV as it only prevents pregnancy.”
Dr Ayisi Addo explained that “the face of HIV has changed positively because of treatment but in ensuring that people live normal lives and not think HIV is no longer an issue and be careless and spread it, education must be intensified.”