Eliminating HIV/AIDS in Ghana

HIV/AIDS in Ghana
According to the Ghana AIDS Commission, more than 346,000 people are currently living with HIV/AIDS in Ghana. There are several important facts to know about the impact of HIV/AIDS in Ghana and the solutions in place to address the issue.

HIV/AIDS in Ghana

In sub-Saharan Africa in general, the majority of HIV/AIDs infections are concentrated among those living in poverty. According to a 2018 World Bank article, in 2015, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for more than 50% of the world’s extremely impoverished people. Predictions indicate that by 2030, 90% of the world’s extreme poor will reside in sub-Saharan Africa.

A 2007 research article by Noel Dzimnenani Mbirimtengerenji indicates that “HIV is an important outcome of poverty, with sexual trade, migration, polygamy and teenage marriages as its predictors in the sub-Saharan region.”

In 2018, 69% of all people living with HIV/AIDS resided in sub-Saharan Africa. Ghana does not have as high a risk of HIV/AIDS cases compared to other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. For the period of 2018 to 2020, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, categorized Ghana as “having a low-level generalized HIV epidemic.”

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS cases in Ghana has decreased over the years. In 2017, the country’s HIV rate stood at 2.1% compared to the 2016 rate of 2.4%. Women account for a significant portion of these cases.

Women are at greater risk of contracting HIV/AIDS in Ghana, but also globally. UNAIDS estimated in 2012 that “a young woman gets infected with HIV every minute.” In 2018, in Ghana,  females accounted for 65% of the 334,713 people living with HIV/AIDS in comparison to 35% of men. Women are at a greater risk of engaging in poverty-driven sex work, which increases their risk of contracting HIV. In 2014, female sex workers made up 11.1% of those with HIV in Ghana.

Greater Accra, Eastern, Ashanti and Western Region are the areas in Ghana with the highest rates of HIV. The four regions hold 75% of cases but only 58% of the population. The most at-risk populations are men who have sex with men, prisoners and female sex workers.


The Ghana AIDS Commission, established in 2016, is a body that aims to “formulate policy on the HIV and AIDS epidemic and to direct and coordinate activities in response to HIV and AIDS.” The commission’s objectives include:

  • Advocating for HIV/AIDS prevention and control in Ghana.
  • Leading “national planning, supervision, and support of the HIV and AIDS program.”
  • Monitoring and assessing the effectiveness of the country’s HIV/AIDS programs.
  • Disseminating HIV/AIDS education across the country.
  • Ensuring proper data collection on persons living with HIV in Ghana.

Free to Shine, which the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) and the African Union launched in January 2018, aims to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV and lower the risk of pediatric HIV. The First Lady of Ghana, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, gave a speech explaining that there is an urgency for increased testing and treatment efforts among women of childbearing age in order to prevent mother-to-child transmission.

Looking Ahead

Overall, HIV/AIDS in Ghana affects women and those in poverty at a much greater rate. Through the resources that programs and organizations have provided, as well as more testing and accurate data, HIV-infected people can receive support and the spread of HIV can reduce.

– Ann Shick
Photo: Flickr