Accra, Ghana – The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is preparing to launch the “ART at 20 celebrations” to highlight the progress and impact of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) on lives and intensify advocacy for improved linkages, retention, adherence, and commodity security in the fight against HIV.
Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director General of the GHS, announced this year-long celebration, which will take place at both national and regional levels.
The event aims to showcase the benefits of ART, including the “Undetectable = Untransmissible” (U=U) campaign. U=U is a prevention method estimated to be 100 percent effective as long as individuals living with HIV take their medication as prescribed and achieve undetectable viral loads.
The announcement was made during the launch of the 2023 World AIDS Day organized by the Ghana AIDS Commission under the theme “Let Communities Lead.”
Over the past 20 years, ART has saved the lives of thousands of Ghanaians, increasing the number of individuals on ART from 9,790 in 2020 to 13,539 in 2022.
Dr. Kuma-Aboagye emphasized that although Ghana has a robust program targeting key populations, the prevention aspect of the national response continues to receive limited attention.
He noted that while differentiated testing and treatment were firmly established, there were gaps in commodity security and procurement supply chain management. To address these challenges and explore opportunities, the ART celebration was launched.
The celebration will also include dialogues on sustainable commodity financing and related program implementation.
Dr. Kuma-Aboagye highlighted the importance of communities taking the lead in sharing their success stories and engaging the public to strengthen efforts to eliminate HIV stigma and discrimination.
World AIDS Day, traditionally observed on December 1, will be celebrated on November 30 this year, as December 1, 2023, is a public holiday.
The global event unites people to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, demonstrate solidarity with those affected, and remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS-related causes.
Dr. Kyereme Atuahene, the Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, emphasized the urgent need to close significant funding gaps in the treatment of HIV and AIDS in the country.
He noted that donor funding for HIV and AIDS response had decreased from 75 to 33 percent over the last two decades, creating substantial funding gaps that need to be filled domestically to sustain the progress made.
This year's celebration, known as “Red Ribbon Month,” will see communities taking the lead in HIV activities, including education sessions, digital awareness campaigns, national and regional condom activation and sensitization, free HIV testing and counselling services, and engagement with religious groups. The National HIV and AIDS Fund will also be launched.
Dr. Atuahene stressed the importance of collective efforts to end AIDS by 2030 and encouraged community members to continue working towards reducing HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths among all populations.