Emergency contraceptive pills and Agenda 90-90-90

0
204
Emergency contraceptive pills and Agenda 90-90-90

Emergency contraceptive pills and Agenda 90-90-90

Emergency contraceptive pills and Agenda 90-90-90 – Putting together this article has been a tough one for various reasons. As a typical health-conscious person myself, I first set out to read other works about post pills, and I found a countless number of them.

The Ghana AIDS Commission launched the Agenda 90-90-90 with the aim to get 9 out of ever 10 people who were positive to know their status, then out of those who are positive, 9 out of every 10 of them should be on Antiretrovirals while 9 out of every 10 of those on treatment should achieve viral suppression.

This was to be achieved by the year 2020. Unfortunately, it has become glaring that this can not be achieved. In a forum marking the World AIDS Day of 2019, the Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission has conceded that the target has been missed.

Among the many reasons given, Ghana Health News has made a certain observation that led to this workpiece. The “excessive” use of post pills.

A pharmacist who prefers to remain anonymous told this writer, he has stopped selling post pills because he felt he was not going those who were buying them any good.

A pharmacist at Pharmaid Ghana Debrah Akosua Bema took the time to explain issues surrounding the pill to the GHA.

She educated that, per medical standards, a post-pill is called an emergency pill for a reason. The implication of this is that it should not replace a contraceptive pill that is to be taken daily. Sounding blunt, she mentioned that in other jurisdictions, one would ideally not take more than 4 emergency pills in a year. She warned that since every drug is a potential poison, taking more than four of such pills could become hazardous to one’s health.

The reverse, unfortunately, is true. In the process of putting this piece together, one Pharmacist the writer spoke to said he has stopped selling emergency post pills because he was afraid that the rate at which young girls in their teens were patronizing the pill.

OTHER DANGERS OR SIDE EFFECTS

She said it should not replace the usual contraceptives, cautioning, “under normal circumstances, for every female, you will want to know your menstrual cycle, this will help you to know when you are or are not safe to use a contraceptive”

On the rate of purchase, she answered that in the community pharmacy, “the emergency contraceptives are one of our most sold product” implying that people were actually not planning for the pregnancies, yet were also engaging in risky s*xual behavior that could get them infected with any STI.

According to her, the emergency pills were high dose hormonal pills and if one took one in a week, the person would “have taken 52 of those pills instead of just 4, the body would now have to deal with the excess, the body will now be under stress to detoxify, metabolize, and excrete what it doesn’t need.

Emphasizing on the side effects, she mentioned that, every part of the body could be affected and not just the reproductive system. Sounding scary, she said, “sometimes the least you think about is the heart, but it is the first to be affected, but because you have not gone to the hospital for the doctor to tell you that you have a problem with your cardiac system, you think all is alright, with your reproductive system, it could alter your menstrual cycle completely.”

She gave examples of people who have reported shorter menstrual cycles, others who have reported decreased blood flow and many disorders as a result of excessive usage of emergency pills. She advised that women go in for regular contraceptives which have reduced concentration of hormones and that young people especially protect themselves with condoms which would also prevent STIs.

Emergency contraceptive pills and Agenda 90-90-90

THE LINK TO HIV NEW INFECTIONS

HIV is mainly acquired through unprotected sex with an infected person. This implies that the more unprotected s*x one has, the more the person is at risk of contracting not only HIV but any other S*xually Transmitted Infection (STI).

According to the Ghana AIDS Commission, there is currently an estimated number of 334,713 people living with HIV in Ghana with 117,119 males and 217,514 females.

According to Mr. Atuahene Agyeman, Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, 2010 to 2016, new infections increased by 21% in all ages and 45% in youth aged 15-24 years. This is a worrying trend which only implies that more young people get infected by the day than any other age group.

One would not be wrong to opine that this is so because they are more s*xually active, and are having unprotected s3x.

This age group constitutes a very active sexual group that should receive all the attention they deserve from stakeholders in the industry to prevent transmission of HIV and other STI. Unfortunately, the odds are against this group.

The majority of these are in the Senior High School and are heavily influenced by the age groups with prevalence far higher. i.e. 25 – 26 age group with a prevalence of 2.3, 30 – 34 age group with a prevalence of 3.0 and 35 – 39 age group with a prevalence of 3.4.

According to statistics from the Ghana AIDS Commission, (Sentinel Survey Report 2018) HIV prevalence among the age group 15 – 19 is 0.9. The lowest among all age groups. This is interestingly good but could continue to record high new infections as a result of influence from the older age groups as a result of ignorance in making informed decisions with respect to negotiation for s*x. The end result is unprotected s*x which continues to increase prevalence as the age group climbs up the graph.

With 170,000 adults with the virus who are not on treatment according to the GAC, the agenda 90-90-90 might continue to remain a dream and the challenges will be compounded by the rise of new infections triggered by the use of methods that prevent pregnancies and not STIs.

On her side, Regional Coordinator of HIV, AIDS, and STIs in the Eastern Region, Gifty XXX advised that the only method of preventing pregnancies and STIs was the condom use and stated that “that pill that you are on will prevent pregnancy but will not prevent STI including HIV, so then what were you trying to prevent? you were preventing but now have an STI, why don’t you go in for the dual method of what can prevent both pregnancies and STIs she asked?

Emergency contraceptive pills and Agenda 90-90-90

THE POSSIBLE CAUSES

In finding out the possible causes of the use of such substances, the writer identified varied reasons, some of which have been mentioned above. One dangerous trend identified was those some young girls were coerced into taking the pills by older men.

Speaking some young girls in a Senior High School in Koforidua, some girls mentioned that they were given several of the pills to take by men who had constant intercourse with them and supplied the pills for them to take, unaware of the side effects they also just took it.

In a particular case, a 16-year-old SHS One girl mentioned that in a month, she has already taken four.

In the midst of the staggering statistics of the rate of new infections of HIV among adolescents information on safe choices with respect to s*xual and reproductive health has become urgent. A stitch in time saves nine.

Ghana Health News