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World AIDS Day: GHANET to organise HIV Self-Testing Health Walk Saturday

The Ghana HIV and AIDS Network (GHANET) will on Saturday organise a health walk to create awareness on HIV Self-Testing (HIVST).

The exercise, which is in collaboration with the Network of Persons Living with HIV (NAP+), and other stakeholders, is in commemoration of this year’s World AIDS Day.

Mr Ernest Amoabeng Ortsin, President, GHANET, in a press release, said the walk would start from Ayi Mensah, Accra, at 0600 hours and end at Peduase, where there would be statements from government officials, development partners and civil society organisation leaders, as well as persons living with HIV (PLHIV).

It said special dignitaries, including a representative of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, would be in attendance.

Side attractions will include onsite colour splashing, onsite face painting, live brass band music, live gyama music, live instructor-led aerobics, free condom distribution, free HIV self-testing kits, social networking, photo opportunities, and a Kenkey party.

Mr Ortsin said similar e
vents would take place across the country in some regional capitals.

In 1988 the UNAIDS designated the 1st of December as World AIDS Day (WAD) in remembrance of persons who had lost their lives to the then ravaging HIV and AIDS menace.

The Day was also to be used to create awareness about the pandemic and encourage people to protect and prevent themselves from getting infected.

The initiative was embraced by countries around the world and, since then, it has always been celebrated with both global and locally adapted themes.

This year, the theme for the WAD celebration is ‘Let Communities Lead’ aimed at inspiring persons infected and most affected by HIV and AIDS to take up roles and initiatives that can help end the disease as a public health concern by 2030.

In July this year, the Minister for Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, officially launched HIVST in Ghana.

At the time of the launch, the only approved form of self-testing, as per the country’s guidelines, was the oral method.

However, with the supp
ort of Global Fund, the Ministry of Health (MoH), through the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has successfully piloted the use of OraQuick HIVST in about 50 districts.

Whilst the pilot was ongoing, other HIVST methods were evaluated by the National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NACP) to expand HIVST options in Ghana.

Following the success of the evaluations, the country has now revised its guidelines to include blood-based methods of HIVST.

This revision has opened a window of opportunity for companies such as Abbott to introduce its CheckNOW HIVST in the country, giving Ghanaians a variety of choices.

CheckNOW is a blood-based method of HIVST, which gives test results in just 15 minutes.

It is based on a 3rd generation HIVST technology, which detects HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies in a fingerstick blood sample.

The National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) is optimistic that the multiplication of HIVST testing options will help the country to achieve the first 95 of the 95-95-95 UNAIDS targets.

Currently, only abo
ut 72 per cent of the estimated 354,000 persons living with HIV in Ghana know their status.

This means that about 100,000 PLHIV are not aware of their status and may be inadvertently spreading the virus.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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