Pathogenesis and Prevention Research in Resource-limited settings (INTEREST 2019)
WAAF-IHCC participated in the above-mentioned historic conference held in Accra from 14-17thMay 2019 and the two organizations were ably represented by our Medical Director and CEO, Dr Naa, our Head Nurse, Ms. Guro Sorensen as well as our visiting Canadian interns Natasha Pereira, Bernice Ho, Victoria Soo from QWAAF (Queens University branch of WAAF).
Salient information shared at the conference by global, continental and national experts of the infection were as follows:
- In 2017, there were1,8 million NEW HIV infections worldwide.
- There were 940 000 HIV/AIDS death-related cases.
- Men who sleep with men represent 18% of the new infections globally.
- GHANA recorded over 19 000 NEW infections in 2017.
Below are the statistics in terms of where the world stands with regards to the 90-90-90 goals which are expected to be realized by 2030:
- Globally:75% – 79% – 81%
- West Africa:48% – 83% – 73%
- Ghana:3% – 33.8% – 22% (GAC 2018)
- Prevalence for the general population in Ghana (2018):1,69%
- Female sex workers (2015):7%
- Men who sleep with Men (2017): 18.1%
- HIV population in Ghana (2018):334 713 New infections in Ghana(2018): 19 931.
- HIV Deaths in Ghana(2018): 14, 181
- Key Populationaccounts for 47% of new HIV infections globally
In his presentation, the Director-General of GAC, Mr. Kyeremeh Atuahene stated that HIV Self testing will be used as a strategy for achieving the 1st90 and PrEP will also be introduced in Ghana in 2019. WAAF-IHCC believes that PrEP is clearly well studied and effective and there in NO reason why PrEP should not be offered in Ghana. In this regard, the clarion call is for all health-focused civil society organizations to push for that to happen. (PrEP was a WHO recommendation in 2015 as an HIV prevention strategy. WHO’s goal is to have 3 million people on PrEP by 2020).
Another presentation on adolescents in South Africa at the Conference revealed that 90% of STIs among a large group of participants were asymptomatic. This is interesting food for thought for Ghana as well since our STI diagnosis and management systems are likely to put people at an even higher risk of STI infections.
More information on current management of the Infection shared at the IAS Science and Community pre-conference workshop which preceded the INTEREST Conference and was co-chaired by William Ampofo (Noguchi) and Angela Trenton-Mbonde (Country Director, UNAIDS Ghana) were as follows:
- Dolutegravir is the new drug to take over the HIV treatment regimen. There was however some discussion on the use of the drug during pregnancy.
- Studies have proven that Undetectable = intransmissible in heterosexual relationships as well as in same-sex-relationships.
- It is estimated to be 330 000 PLHIV in Ghana, with 113, 171 of them currently on ART.
- In 2017 there were 10 million new TB cases detected, out of which 10% were in PLHIV clients.
- A presentation in HIV and co-infections illustrated how the Gene Xpert machine can be utilized in HPV, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhoea testing.
- There was also a presentation on TB testing strategy with rapid testing for TB diagnosis and though this strategy is not being used in Ghana, it is a strategy that is used in other countries, which probably Ghana/West Africa should consider to improve in TB diagnostics.