The Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regional Technical Coordinator of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), Mr Ahmed Ibrahim Bimbilla, has disclosed a record of 884 new HIV infections in the region in 2022. He said available figures showed that 19,281 people were living with HIV and AIDS in the region, as of December 2022, with Bono’s prevalence pegging at 2.27 per cent.
Mr Bimbilla, who was speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview in Sunyani, said about 70 young people had earlier undertaken an HIV and AIDS walk on some principal streets of the city, to create public awareness about the reality of the disease.
Organised by the Bono Regional branch of the Ghana HIV and AIDS Network (GHANET), a leading Civil Society organisation in the fight against disease in the country, the marchers, mostly young people, held placards with inscriptions such as “your health is our concern, but the choice is yours” and “your self-testing is here.”
Mr Bimbilla described the spread of new HIV infections in the region as alarming, saying in the past three years, the region continued to top in HIV and AIDS cases nationwide, saying it was only in 2022 that the Eastern region jumped to the top.
That notwithstanding, he said it required collective efforts to reduce the region’s HIV prevalence rate of 2.27 per cent, above the country’s prevalence rate of 1.7 per cent and called on everybody to support public education.
Mr Bimbilla said with the use of condoms and lubricants, abstinence from sex, voluntary testing and counselling and other preventive measures cases could be brought under control.
Mr Raphael Godlove Ahenu, the Bono Regional Chairman of GHANET, said the sexually active young people in the region were highly exposed to HIV and AIDS because they had little knowledge about the disease. He said GHANET had targeted to reach out to and sensitise many of the young people in the region for them to understand and appreciate the need to protect themselves and refrain from pre-marital sexual practices.
Mr Ahenu advised young girls to tread cautiously, and not allow people to lure them into sex by giving them gifts, saying that could expose them to the virus and other sexually transmitted infections. Sex, he said, was a preserve and consummation of marriage, and entreated the young people to concentrate on their books now and avoid bad peer influences.