The HIV prevalence among Ghanaian men who have sex with other men (MSM), also known as homosexuals, has hit an alarming 19 percent, a new report has indicated.
This means that almost two out of every 10 MSM in Ghana are HIV positive, however, majority of MSM in Ghana do not practise it exclusively, implying that they have sexual intercourse with males and females, a situation health professionals have identified as contributing to new infections.
Reports have showed that MSM have eight times the prevalence of HIV among its population as compared to the general Ghanaian population but are less likely to be connected to HIV care such as regular testing and treatment because of the social stigma attached to utilising HIV/STD care by MSM.
This revelation comes days after the 2017 HIV Sentinel Survey (HSS) report was launched in Accra.
The HSS report showed a decline in the national HIV prevalence and HIV among pregnant women but showed an increase in new HIV infections, a situation which calls for urgent national action if the country is going to meet its HIV targets by 2020.
“The increase in new infections is a matter of concern because Ghana recorded significant gains in the key target areas of ending HIV/AIDS for five years,” it stated.
The report pegged the highest prevalence age for males to be 40 to 44 year group while for females it was 45 to 49 year group.
It further showed that four regions (Accra, Ashanti, Western and Volta) recorded prevalence above the national median of 2.1 percent, with the disease more prevalent in urban areas than rural.
It also indicated an increase in HIV prevalence among STI clients recording 6.3 per cent from the previous 5.4 per cent
The report stated that HIV infection among STI clients is high and rising, thus screening of patients who report to all health facilities in Ghana with STI for HIV may provide an opportunity for early detection of disease.
The HSS report also revealed that in 2016, a total of 15,116 people in Ghana died of HIV and AIDS-related illness while in 2017, 16,000 people died of the disease.