Over 46,000 people living with HIV refuse treatment – AIDS Commission laments

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Sample blood collection tube with HIV test label on HIV infection screening test form.

The Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) has revealed that about 46,000 people infected with HIV have refused to accept treatment for the deadly disease.

According to the Director-General of the Commission, Kyeremeh Atuahene, this worrying trend has presented a new challenge to the national HIV epidemic control and viral suppression programme.

He said this issue has also caused a spike in newly recorded cases in some areas.

Speaking during a meeting with Graphic Communications, Mr Atuahene said the Commission in its bid to control the national prevalence which currently stands at 342,307, this development has become a major impediment to ensuring that.

In an attempt to give reasons as to why some patients have refused to seek appropriate treatment, Mr Atuahene indicated that while many patients are still living in denial of their new statuses, others are also holding back due to the stigma which comes with being an HIV patient in this part of the world.

On the other hand, he disclosed that other patients have opted for supposed traditional cures and treatment from spiritual leaders.

“Some say that they have done nothing to contract the virus, while others also refuse treatment for fear of being stigmatised in health facilities; which I agree is very high and we are working around the clock to address…Some feel that once they visit a health facility for the anti-retroviral, they will be identified by other people who will subject them to stigmatisation,” he is quoted to have said.

Mr Atuahene said the prevalence rate of HIV in Ghana was 2.0%, as infections among people in the age brackets of 15 to 49 was at 1.70%.

Per details of 2019 fact sheet, the country recorded 20,068 new HIV infections and 13,616 deaths that year.

He added that out of the new infections, 17,096, representing 85%, were from 15 years and above, while 2,972, representing 15%, were children of 14 years and below.