Adolescent girls need more on HIV and AIDS – PEPFAR. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) of the United States Embassy has made a call for more to be done for adolescent girls and young women in the area of preventing new infections of HIV.
In a tweet, PEPFAR has been clear that “The HIV and AIDS epidemic disproportionately affects adolescent girls and young women in many countries. In Sub-Saharan Africa, females account for 67% of new HIV infections in young people.”
These statistics, when interpolated, will reflect what pertains to many countries including Ghana. More adolescent girls and young women seem to be more at risk than their male counterparts.
According to the ROP report of PEPFAR, the number of adolescent girls between the ages of 15 to 24 living with HIV as per the National AIDS Control Program’s figures released April 19, 2019, was 26,405. Meanwhile, the number of males living with HIV for the same age group was 9,942. This gives a difference of 16,463 and speaks volumes.
The implications are grievous and connote a clarion call for immediate action to “save the girls”. If Ghana is to succeed in reversing the trend of new infections of HIV and to beat down prevalence, adolescent girls and young women cannot be ignored.
Following a failure to meet the Agenda 90-90-90 goal, all stakeholders and authorities in the field of HIV need to provide a positive response not only to the general population but to this age-group. It will be recalled that in the Eastern Region of Ghana, a vigorous projected once dubbed the “Adolescents all in” that targeted adolescents in Senior High Schools spearheaded by a former Technical Coordinator at the Ghana AIDS Commission, Golda Asante yielded tremendous results.
This project led to many of these adolescents getting tested to know their status. At such a program at the Mamfe Senior High School closely monitored by the Ghana Health News, over 900 students got tested in just a day.
This project sadly took a dip and fizzled into thin air with her exit. Adolescents have always remained a priority in issues that has to do with reproductive health. If PEPFAR’s investment of nearly $2 billion a year in supporting women and girls is to yield the expected results, especially in the area of HIV, government agencies and stakeholders cannot afford to sit and watch this crucial age group.
A stitch in time it is said saves nine.