The Ghana AIDS Commission has revealed that more than 22,000 children aged between 10–19 years contracted HIV/AIDs in 2021.
The Commission further disclosed that about 42,346 youth aged between 15–25 years were also infected with HIV in the same year.
Disclosing the alarming figures on the Citi Breakfast Show on Wednesday, Director of Technical Services of the Commission, Dr. Fred Nana Poku, said mother-to-child transmission of the deadly disease was about 2,949 in 2021.
“HIV is quite serious amongst the youth. When you look at the data, for people aged 15–25 years, the total population was 42,346. More than 22,000 children aged 10–19 years have HIV. For mother to child, we had about 2,949, over the period of 2021,” he told Bernard Avle on the Citi Breakfast Show.
He advised the public to take medications that will prevent them from being infected with HIV.
“Take medications that will prevent you from getting HIV when you undertake a risky behaviour [sex]. Just like you take medications to prevent malaria, it’s the same principle,” Dr. Poku advised.
Dr. Poku suggested that more contraceptives are made readily available to the youth to prevent the spread of the disease and teenage pregnancies.
“When you look at the statistics, teenage pregnancy is on the rise. We continue trumpeting it that you abstain but if you can’t, please protect yourself.”
“There are several protective measures that can be taken. You can use your injectables, emergency contraceptives and all that. They are very good and effective. Some of these do not protect against other conditions such as HIV. So you have to use contraceptives to protect yourself from getting HIV and other STIs,” Director of Technical Services of the Commission said.
He said infected youth face a lot of challenges as they are unable to cope with the stigma associated with HIV.
“It’s not easy for them because of the stigma and the discrimination associated with that condition. And in schools, the feeling of their friends knowing that they are HIV patients, that stigma is very high and not welcomed. So they face a lot of challenges. Some of them their medications need to be rebranded, and put in different bottles so that people will not know. Some of them have to hide before they take their medications,” he said.
He said they sometimes have to consult health workers to counsel and break the news to the infected children as parents are not able to muster the courage to do so.
“Sometimes we have to bring in health workers to break the news to these children, it’s difficult for the parents to break the news to them,” Dr. Poku indicated.
Dr. Poku advised the youth to stay away from unprotected sex.
“HIV/AIDS is real, it is still persistent, abstain from sex or use contraceptives,” he urged.