General News of Tue, 17 Jun 20031

HIV/AIDS Kills 600,000 Ghanaians

More than 600,000 people have died of AIDS since 1986 when it was first detected in the country.

This was disclosed by the Suhum/Kraboa Coaltar District Chief Executive, Mr Michael Kofi Mensah at a public education forum on youth empowerment, population, sexual and reproductive health at Yakorkor, community near Suhum. The DCE said 77 HIV/AIDS cases were reported in 1997, 101 in 1998, 110 in 2000, 101 in 2001 and 96 cases in 2002 in the district. He said the spread of the disease must be curbed since people in their productive years are most at risk, with serious implications on the overall socio-economic development of the country.

Mr Mensah said it is against this background that the government is leaving no stone unturned in combating the spread of the disease. He said a 15-member District Response Initiative (DRI) has been established to co-ordinate activities on the HIV/AIDS awareness programme in the area. An AIDS documentation centre has also been established at the district administration to provide information on the disease. Mr. Mensah commended the Ghana AIDS Commission for supporting seven community-based organisations, which has started HIV/AIDS campaigns in the area to complement the efforts of the DRI.

He said programmes aimed at creating awareness to curb the spread of the disease have been organised at Nanakese, Akorabo, Otoase, Asuboi, Dokrochiwa, Supresu and Kroansang among other communities. The DCE appealed to the people to end the stigmatisation and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and to show love and care for them. The Eastern Regional Population Officer, Mr. Kofi Abinah on behalf of Dr R.B. Turkson, Executive Director, National Population Council called on the people to avoid early marriage.

He said early marriage affects both fertility and mortality, which contributed to population growth while mortality worsened the incidence of neo-natal, infant and maternal morbidity, with negative effects on national development.

Letter from a reader

Dear Mr. Editor,
I would like to add my voice to congratulate Ghanaweb for a good job. I however will like to draw your attention to the article headed "AIDS kills 600,000 Ghanaians".

I left Ghana last year. I work in the area of HIV/AIDS. I think that figure of 600,000 killed is simply not accurate or rather the statement has not been put right. As at last year a little over 40,000 (can't remember actual figure) Full-blown HIV/AIDS cases had been reported to our hospitals since 1986. It was estimated in 2002 that a little under 400,000 Ghanaians are infected with the virus. Maybe this number has increased to 600,000 as at 2003. So the number 600,000 is likely to be an estimate of the number infected and not the number recorded dead.

I would appreciate it if a correspondent checked this figure with the Ghana AIDS Commission. I am of the view that the AIDS situation in Ghana is serious and should be given more attention than it is getting, but I think we should be careful with figures(refering to which ever official put out the figure.

I hope my contribution will be helpful.
Best regards,
K.Lokko

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