| GEO Health|
| Over 21,000 children in Ghana are HIV positive|
| Updated at: 1551 PST, Thursday, July 29, 2010|
CAPE COAST: About 21,202 children have tested positive to the HIV/AIDS disease nationwide, the Central Regional Coordinator on HIV/AIDS Mr. Ebenezer Koomson, said on Tuesday.
He painted a dismal picture of the HIV/AIDS situation in the country and described as a "worrying trend" the high rates of deaths of its victims, which was 17, 058 annually.
Mr Koomson expressed these concerns at the second quarter review on HIV/AIDS Control activities in the various districts in the region at Cape Coast.
He said the HIV/AIDS population in the country was 240,802 nationwide of which 219,600 are adults.
He pointed out that epidemiologically, when the prevalence of a chronic disease goes above one per cent it becomes a major problem that needs to be tackled by health personnel, with urgency.
The GHS, particularly, at the district level, should, therefore, collaborate with other stakeholders and health related NGOs to address all health issues in their areas to ensure quality health care delivery, he declared.
Mr. Koomson announced that as part of strategies to deal with the pandemic, his outfit embarked on Sentinel Survey, which provided a primary data for estimation and projection of HIV and AIDS impact on the general population at the regional level.
Other measures were the "Know Your Status Campaign" (KYSC), a strategy to create greater access for the population to access care and treatment if one is infected with the disease.
He advised that pregnant women should not be excluded from KYSC but be involved for them to be linked to care and further treatment if tested positive to prevent mother to child transmission.
He expressed regret that some infected persons were neglected, ex-communicated, shunned or ejected in some communities, noting those practices were still common and pointed out that the discrimination often left victims in a state of insecurity and hopelessness, resulting in their early death.
Mr. Koomson said an HIV positive person with a little care from friends and relatives could live longer and asked Ghanaians to treat relatives and friends with the disease with respect and utmost care.
On the National Health Insurance Scheme, (NHIS) he told the public to disabuse their minds of the notion that it was a positive reinforcement for the records of numerous pregnancies in the various communities.
He noted that this was a challenge for the NHIS to partner the health directorates in their districts to provide quality health care services and evolve means to meet the needs of the public.
Presenting reports on HIV/AIDS in the districts, Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese district health directorate recorded five positive of the 30 people who went in for voluntary counselling and testing during the second quarter of this year.
It said of the 855 expectant mothers screened on the prevention from mother to child (PMTC) services, 16 tested positive adding that, currently 17 people were on treatment while 13 babies are also HIV positive.
In the Assin North district, eight HIV/AIDS deaths were recorded during the first quarter and one in the second quarter of this year.
He mentioned the frequent shortage of Anti-Retroviral Drugs, as s a major challenge in managing the disease at the district level.
The other districts appealed for regular supply of drugs as well as funds to enable them to manage the disease effectively.