HIV health experts have delved into the country-specific implementation experiences of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Differentiated Service Delivery (DSD) at the ongoing 22nd edition of the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (ICASA) in Harare, Zimbabwe.
The discussions aim to ensure that all individuals with HIV have access to differentiated service delivery models, including innovative approaches like 6-month Multi-Month Dispensing (MMD) for children and adolescents.
Country reports were presented by distinguished experts including Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo, Programme Director of the National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NACP) of Ghana; Dr. Sivile Suilanji, National HIV Technical Advisor of Zambia; and Ms. Hiwot Haile-Selassie, Consultant at the Strategic Information, Analytics, and Use Unit, Global HIV, Hepatitis, and STI Programme WHO Headquarters.
The panel discussion included contributions from Jean Berchmans of the Rwanda Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (RRP+), Dr. Amir Shroufi, Senior HIV Advisor at The Global Fund, and was moderated by Ms. Celine Lastrucci from the DSD Technical Officer Testing, Prevention, and Populations Unit, Global HIV, Hepatitis, and STI Programme WHO Headquarters.
The ongoing ICASA 2023, themed “AIDS is not over: Address inequalities, accelerate inclusion, and innovate,” began on December 4 and is scheduled to conclude on Saturday, December 9.
Dr. Ayisi Addo presented insights on Ghana's progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS, revealing that as of 2022, Ghana's HIV population stood at 350,000, with 254,753 individuals aware of their status, 222,581 on treatment, 97,630 virally suppressed, and 9,400 AIDS-related deaths in 2021.
Dr. Ayisi Addo highlighted Ghana's commitment to WHO recommendations, treating all people living with HIV with ART since 2016. Differentiated Service Delivery (DSD) was emphasized as a strategy to adapt services to clients' needs, reduce the burden on healthcare workers, and make adaptations across the HIV care cascade.
The call for collaborative efforts between healthcare workers and patients to achieve the goals of ending HIV and AIDS was echoed by other speakers and panelists during the session. Notable personalities attending included Ghana's Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr. Alexander Grant Ntrakwa.