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The Bolgatanga Municipality in the Upper East Region remains a hotshot for HIV infection, health experts have said.
Sulemana Majeed, Regional HIV Coordinator, who disclosed this at a media briefing, said, “Bolgatanga has always been above the national figure, which calls for an increase sensitisation and education.”
The media engagement was part of a series of activities by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Ghana AIDS Commission to solicit the support of journalists to increase public awareness on HIV and help prevent, control and manage the spread of the virus among the public.
Mr Majeed said the regional figure for HIV infection was 1.9 percent and noted that the disease was gradually becoming more urbanised with lots of population influx with activities, including commercial sex activities at certain areas within the Bolgatanga township.
He emphasised that the HIV hotspot was not static and peculiar to certain areas in the region but had over the years swung among the districts, adding that Navrongo in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality, used to be a hotspot.
“It moved to Sandema in the Builsa North Municipality for about five years and to the Bolgatanga Municipality. So if you go by the HIV Sentinel Survey (HSS) data, Bolgatanga will be considered as our hotspot,” the HIV Coordinator said.
He said per the HSS sites of HIV prevalence, the Bolgatanga Municipality recorded increases from 2.8 percent in 2018 to 3.6 percent in 2019, and indicated that though there was a decrease to 2.6 percent in 2020, the prevalence rate was still high in the Bolgatanga Municipality.
He said Navrongo recorded a constant figure of 1.6 percent in 2017 and 2018 respectively, with increases to 2.0 percent in 2019, and 2.2 percent in 2020, while the Builsa North Municipality saw a consistent increase from 1.0 percent in 2017 to 1.1 percent in 2018 and from 1.2 percent in 2019 to 1.3 percent in 2020.
The situation, he noted, was not different in the Bawku Municipality as it equally recorded increases from 0.4 percent in 2017, to 0.6 percent in 2018, 1.2 percent in 2019, and 1.3 percent in 2020.
On the number of positive HIV cases per population, Mr Majeed said the first five hotspot Districts were Nabdam, Bolgatanga East, Builsa North, Bongo, and Bolgatanga Municipality.
Nabdam District, he said, recorded 214 HIV cases per population, “So per every 100,000 population in Nabdam, 214 of them would be HIV positive, Bolgatanga East is 175, Builsa North is 152, Bongo 149 and Bolgatanga Municipality is 112 per 100,000 population.”
Dr Josephat Nyuzaghl, Deputy Regional Director of the GHS in charge of Public Health, called on journalists, especially broadcast journalists at various radio stations across the Region, to support the Health Directorate to educate and increase awareness of HIV among members of the public to curtail the spread.