The Ghana Aids Commission (GAC) has described as false some information in the media that there is cure for HIV and AIDS. According to the commission, the information was misleading and, therefore, there was the need to halt any such publicity of cure for the disease.
At a media briefing in Accra yesterday, the Director General of the commission, Dr Mokowaa Blay Adu, reiterated that the only effective way of managing the virus was the consistent use of the prescribed anti-retroviral medication.
She observed that similar reports had concluded that a Centre of Awareness (COA) food supplement is being used as a cure for HIV but she was quick to draw the public’s attention to the fact that the food supplement had not been certified as an HIV medicine.
“The only approved drugs for treatment of HIV are the anti-retroviral drugs. People Living With HIV (PLHIV) are, therefore, encouraged to strictly adhere to the anti-retroviral drugs,” she urged.
She appealed to the public, especially PLHIV, not to be deceived by people who touted the COA food supplement as a cure for the virus, adding that failure to adhere to the prescribed medication results in negative consequences such as ill-health, retrogression, resistance to treatment and death.
Dr Adu encouraged Ghanaians including pastors and prophets to know their HIV status as HIV testing service was recognised as the entry point to HIV treatment, care, support and a critical ingredient for HIV prevention.
She said under the new GAC Act 938, 2016, plans were underway to establish an HIV and AIDS fund for related research, HIV prevention, stigmatisation reduction and treatment, care and support for PLHIV.
She said the world aimed at ending AIDS by 2030 and to achieve the target, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) had set the 90-90-90 ambitious treatment targets of which Ghana had adopted.
“The aims of the target are that 90 per cent of all PLHIV will know their HIV status; 90 per cent of all people diagnosed with HIV infection will receive sustained anti-retroviral therapy; and 90 per cent of all people receiving anti-retroviral therapy will have viral suppression,” Dr Adu stated.
Ghana has already started with the first 90 target to ensure that majority of Ghanaians know their HIV status.
To ensure that, people outside the healthcare setting are trained as counsellors to reach persons at the community level.
According to the commission, it is estimated that about 13.5 million of Ghana’s projected population of 31 million in 2020 will need to be tested and counselled for HIV over the five-year period of the National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan (NSP) 2016-2020.
The Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, added that the misleading information in the public about a cure for the virus had worsened conditions of PLHIV and frustrated the efforts to manage the epidemic as it eroded the gains made.
He observed that some GHS personnel were colluding with opportunists to sell unproven HIV medications at health centres, stressing that anyone found involved in the unethical practice would be dealt with.
He said his outfit would continue to collaborate with partners to expand access to the comprehensive package of quality services to PLHIV.
Dr Nsiah-Asare gave an assurance that the GHS would not hesitate to announce and make a drug available to the public when a certified cure was discovered.
For his part, the Head of Herbal Medicine of Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Mr Yaw Kwarteng, urged the media to deny advertisement of herbal medicine claiming to cure HIV when it had not been endorsed by the FDA.
“Scrutinise any advertisement of local medication and demand the permit from the FDA. Do not hesitate to report it to the FDA for there is no cure for HIV as of now,” he said.