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Make HIV Testing Compulsory for Presidential, Parliamentary Aspirants

National Democratic Congress Flagbearer hopeful and Member of Parliament for Nadowli Kaleo, Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin has suggested to Parliament to consider making HIV testing a compulsory requirement for those aspiring to be MPs or Presidents, has filed.

The NDC lawmaker who has been known lately for kicking against a huge filing fee by his party made these remarks as part of his contributions to a discussion on the floor of the House to mark World AIDS Day in Parliament.

“…We have to include it as part of the qualification of a Member of Parliament; that before you go to stand an election, you go for an HIV test, and so should it be for all presidential aspirants,” Mr. Babgin said.

He didn’t elaborate further.

HIV prevalence among Ghanaian youth increases

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has revealed that the prevalence rate of HIV has increased by 0.5% among the active adolescent reproductive class of the Ghanaian population in 2017alone.

This was made known during the observation of World Aids Day in Bolgatanga by the Upper East Regional Deputy Director of Public Health, Dr. Josephat Nyuzaghl.

The first day of December every year since 1988, is a day dedicated to raising awareness of AIDS endemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.

This year’s World Aids Day is on the theme “know your status ” with a 90-90-90 campaign which aims to diagnose 90% of all HIV positive persons, provide anti-retroviral therapy for 90% of those diagnosed and achieve viral suppression for 90% of those treated by 2020.

Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic,36.9million people were living with HIV. 94,000 deaths were recorded at the end of 2017. An estimated 0.8% of adults aged between 15-49 years worldwide are living with HIV, although the burden of the epidemic continues to vary considerably between countries and regions. The epidemic World Health Organization(WHO) African region which Ghana is part, remains most severely affected with nearly 1out of every two–thirds of people living with HIV worldwide.

Addressing a gathering of stakeholders at a durbar at the Jubilee Park in Bolgatanga, Dr. Josephat Nyuzaghl said “the worrying side is that Ghana’s HIV response is the continuous increase in HIV prevalence amongst the youth (15-24) who are future leaders of this country from 1.% in 2016 to 1.5% in 2017 according to the 2017 HIV sentinel survey”.

He has had however indicated that the Ghana Health Service in the Upper East Region over the years has made significant progress in ensuring access to HIV services and on the path to achieving both the global and country sub-themes for this year’s celebration.

“The region has been able to achieve to reduce its Hiv prevalence over the past ten years from 2.5% in 2007 to 1.3 in 2017. We have been able to attain universal district ART clinic establishment coverage, by increasing the number of ART Clinics from 9 in 2014 to 26 in 2018. Every district in upper East can now provide HIV care, treatment and support without referring clients to other districts as we used to do in the past,” He explained.

Despite these achievements, Dr. Nyuzaghl said the region was confronted with challenges which include; a limited number of midwives, transportation for outreach programmes, stigma and discrimination. He, therefore, called on stakeholders to renew their commitments in supporting the Ghana Health Service(GHS) to offer comprehensive HIV and AIDS care to affected in the country.

Meanwhile, the network of Persons Living with HIV and AIDS (NAP+ Ghana) expressed appreciation to the Ghana Aids Commission and its donors for the technical and legal support by influencing the Act 938 2016 to Safeguard the rights of persons living with HIV.

“We acknowledge the efforts national Aids control programme (NAP)Ghana and the Ghana Health Service (GHS ) for the efforts in expanding treatment to the district and community level for PLHIV to easily access and also commend them on the test and treat policy. Our hope is that the health system is strengthened to enable people to continue to know their HIV status the infected have access to early treatment as a result of the test and treat policy to help PLHIV suppress the viral load at the early stage of infection” the network in a statement stated.

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