The 2006 National HIV Prevalence rate is 2.22 (3.2 per cent), an increase in the 2005's prevalence rate of 2.21 (2.7 per cent).A global decision by the United Nations Reference Group on HIV Estimates and Projections comprising WHO, UNAIDS, Future Institutes, United States Census Bureau and the World Bank indicated that a new methodology be used to find the national prevalence rate for HIV by putting together the Demographic Health Survey, Sentinel Survey and the Population Survey to arrive at the National Prevalence.
"With the new methodology, Ghana's HIV Prevalence rate for 2006 is 2.22", Dr Nii Akwei Addo, National Programme Manager of the National AIDS Control Programme said on Monday at the "National Dissemination of the 2006 HIV Sentinel Survey Report, Estimates and Projections of HIV/AIDS in Ghana".He noted that all countries, including Ghana would henceforth calculate their prevalence rate using the new model. The 2006 sentinel survey, saw Eastern region leading with 4.9 per cent followed by Western, Ashanti, Greater Accra, Upper East, Volta and Brong Ahafo with 4.3, 3.7, 3.4, 3.2, 3.0, and 2.8 per cents respectively.Northern region recorded the lowest of 1.3 per cent whilst Central and Upper West Regions recorded 2.5 each respectively.Agomenya, which recorded a decline in 2005 with 6.0 per cent, reverted to its position as the site with the highest prevalence with 8.4 per cent with Nalerigu recording the lowest with 1.0 per cent.
HIV type 1 has since the discovery of the virus in 1986 been the strain with the highest proportion of more than 90 per cent of the infections. HIV type 11 throughout the years has accounted for not more than 1 per cent but showed a slight increase in 2006 survey.The highest prevalence was recorded in the 25 to 29 year group with 4.2 per cent and 40 to 44 year group with 3.3 per cent. The 30 to 34 year group recorded the second highest level of HIV infection with 3.7 per cent with 15 to 19 year group recording the lowest HIV infection with 1.4 per cent.Dr Addo explained that the 15 to 24 age group alone contributed 30 per cent to the total HIV positive cases whilst persons below the age of 35 years contributed 88 per cent of the total positive samples. The new infections were mostly recorded in the 15 to 24 age group. He called for an escalation in efforts to reduce prevalence in the younger age group adding, "it will be the key to reducing the over all prevalence".
He noted the over all HIV prevalence could be said to be at the stabilisation stage with prevalence reverting to the levels recorded in 2004 having dropped for two continuous years at 3.1 and 2.7 in 2005 adding that "analysis by the sentinel sites showed that the prevalence at site level was far from being stable".Dr Addo explained that as access to treatment was increasing, prevalence would rise and said the prevention component of the national response be given higher attention to balance the effect.Mr Silas Quaye, Programme Officer of National AIDS Control Programme said Sexually Transmitted Infections, which had been identified as a co factor in HIV infection and testing for syphilis had been part of the HIV sentinel survey in Ghana since 2004.
He said syphilis prevalence for 2006 saw a decline from 3.6 in 2005 to 3.3 and 5.6 in 2004 with Asikuma Odoben Brakwa in the Central Region leading with 20. 8 per cent.Akim Oda, Assin Fosu, Cape Coast, Sewfi Asafo and Asunafo followed with 19.2, 18.5, 16.4, 16.4 and 12.0 per cents respectively. North Tongu (rural) for the second time has recorded 0.0 per cent. He said syphilis in rural areas were higher than urban areas whilst prevalence was higher in the older age groups of 40 to 44 year group representing 8.1 per cent than the younger age group of 25 to 29 representing 4.6 per cent.Central, Eastern, Western and Ashanti Regions have the highest syphilis prevalence in Ghana and said infection levels needed further investigation especially with its relationship with Yaws and HIV. 30 April 07