Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
In March 1986, the first case of acquired immune deficiency
syndrome (AIDS) was reported in Ghana. In January 1991, a more
detailed report on AIDS in Ghana appeared in which 107 human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive cases were said to have been
recorded in 1987. Three hundred thirty-three people were identified
as HIV positive by the end of March 1988, and there was a further
increase to 2,744 by the end of April 1990. Of the April 1990
number, 1,226 were reported to have contracted AIDS. According to
WHO annual reports, the disease continued to spread in the country.
During 1991 the Comfy Anokye Teaching Hospital reported about fifty
AIDS cases each month.
Although the reported figures were far below the number of
known cases in East Africa and Central Africa, they were still
alarming for a medical system already overburdened by traditional
health problems. Seminars and conferences held to discuss the
disease include the 1990 annual conference of the Ghana Academy of
Arts and Sciences. The conference theme was the impact of
international prostitution and the spread of AIDS. The Ministry of
Health, with funding from WHO, had also set up surveillance systems
to track the AIDS virus as part of its medium-term (1989-93) plan.
According to the program, a countrywide sample of both high- and
low-risk groups had been identified for testing at regular
intervals to measure the prevalence of the disease. A thirty-member
National Advisory Council on AIDS was established in late 1989 to
advise the government on policy matters relating to the control and
prevention of AIDS in the country. The Ministry of Health lacks
adequately trained personnel and information management systems to
combat the disease.
Because of continued spread of infection and improved
reporting, the country recorded 12,500 AIDS cases by the end of
1994, placing Ghana second only to neighboring Côte d'Ivoire, where
more than 16,600 cases of AIDS were recorded, in the West Africa
subregion. Of the Ghanaian AIDs cases, about 8,000 were people aged
fifteen to forty-five; the remainder were mostly children aged five
to ten. At the same time, Ghanaian health officials estimated the
number of HIV positive cases at about 300,000. The incidence of HIV
positive and AIDS cases was highest in Ashanti Region.
The most-affected age-group in Ghana was young working adults.
Some 70 percent of the total infected population was female; on the
basis of this finding, the Ministry of Health anticipated a
significant increase in HIV-positive births in the future.
Considering the gravity of the problem, in February 1994 the
National Parliament recommended that a select committee on
education and health be established to study and make
recommendations for measures to control AIDS. In the meantime,
radio, television, and billboard advertisements are being used as
part of a national AIDS awareness program.
Data as of November 1994