Ghanaian children lagging behind in access to HIV and AIDS services

Ghanaian children lagging behind in access to HIV and AIDS services

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THE number of children at risk of sickness and death from HIV and AIDS due to limited access to antiretroviral therapy is high in Ghana, UNICEF said on World AIDS day.
Among the 250,000 people currently living with HIV in the country, over 21,000 are children under the age of 15. Of these vulnerable and at risk children, only 1 in 5 are on antiretroviral treatment.
Current estimates put at 1,300 the number of annual AIDS related deaths among children aged under 15 in Ghana
In order to reduce the impact of HIV and AIDS on children, there is a need to scale up prevention of mother-to-child transmission – PMTCT – by increasing the coverage of HIV-positive pregnant women with antiretroviral therapy (ART), as well that of HIV-positive children. Currently, in Ghana, 1 in three HIV-positive women receive ARV treatment, whilst only 1 in five HIV-positive children are on ARV drugs. This means that the greater majority of HIV-exposed children are not accessing early diagnosis and therefore those among them who are infected are not benefiting from ART.
‘On this World AIDS day 2015, though Ghana has made huge strides in the fight against HIV and AIDS, urgent attention is needed to get life-saving treatment to children and women who are infected and to sustain efforts aimed at preventing new infections in Ghana,’ said Susan Namondo Ngongi, UNICEF Ghana Country Representative.
‘It is in our power to achieve an AIDS-free generation,’ she added.
In a new report released early December “Statistical Update on Children, Adolescents and AIDS,” UNICEF revealed that since 2000, globally nearly 30 million new infections have been averted, largely due to advances in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Moreover, according to the report, less than half of children under 2 months old are tested for HIV.
The HIV prevalence rate in Ghana, according to the 2014 Demographic and Health Survey, stands at 2.1 percent.

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