A total of 14,000 people died from AIDs in Ghana last year, whilst 12, 073 new HIV infections were recorded , according to the HIV Epidemic Response for Ghana.
In the same year, Ghana had an HIV population of 225, 487 with 30,397 of the umber being children, whilst an estimated 172,000 children were orphaned by AIDS.
This was made known by Dr Richard Amenyah, Director of Technical Services at the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), when he presented a paper on the “Overview of the National HIV Response: Achievements and Challenges”, at the opening of a three-day media training workshop organised by the GAC on Wednesday in Cape Coast.
The workshop was attended by about 50 journalists in the Central Region to help them improve upon their reporting skills on issues concerning HIV and AIDS.
According to UNAIDS Global Epidemic Report for 2011, Ghana had reduced new HIV infections by 66 per cent from 2001 and 2011, being the highest reduction in West and Central Africa, whilst AIDS deaths had also reduced by 30 per cent from 2005 and 2011, Dr Amenyah added.
He therefore estimated that figures by the end of the year would come down with the total HIV population reducing to 222, 124 and that of children reducing to 28, 508.
New HIV infections would be 10,962 and number of AIDS deaths reduced to 12,659.
Dr Amenyah said a total of 221,202 males checked their HIV status with 14,090 of the number testing positive for HIV and 42,801 females testing HIV positive.
Outlining some challenges the programme was facing, Dr Amenyah said Ghana still relied on external funding, which was about 70 per cent and there was no money to run the national agenda.
He said other challenges included high HIV related stigma and discrimination, high risk sex through multiple sexual partners as well as low in depth knowledge on HIV transmission reflecting in high level misconceptions such as AIDS being cured by herbalists.
On the way forward, he said GAC would among other interventions lobby Government to set up AIDS funds to leverage more domestic funds.
More investments would also be made into high impact “most at risk populations”.
Dr Amenyah called on the media to be more committed by putting HIV on their agenda.
Dr Angela El-Adas, Director General of GAC said there is the need for Ghana to completely wipe out discrimination and stigmatisation of persons living with HIV because it is preventing people from getting tested or disclosing their status to relatives and partners and even accessing treatment.
She advised the public to accept and live with persons living with HIV in order to make their lives comfortable.
Madam Rosemary Ardayfio, Page Editor at the Daily Graphic urged the media to contribute in educating those who are HIV negative to take care of their health in order to avoid contracting the virus and learning to live with friends and relatives who are HIV positive.