Those that inject drugs put Ghana at risk for HIV, according to Prof. Torpey

Ghana - Rapid News GH

According to Prof. Kwasi Torpey, dean of the University of Ghana’s School of Public Health, Ghana is in danger of HIV and blood-borne illnesses from drug users.

According to a study completed in four parts of the nation in 2022 by a team, the HIV prevalence among drug users who also inject substances was 2.5%.

“We discovered a 2.5% HIV prevalence among drug users and injectors. Unfortunately, the incidence was 12.7% among drug injectors and 17.7% among drug injectors who also worked as sex workers.

The country is on the verge of an outbreak of HIV and blood-borne illnesses among injecting drug users, he added.

Prof. Torpey advocated for the creation of a harm reduction program for people who use or inject drugs at an inaugural lecture given in his honor by the University of Ghana.
His theme was “Ending HIV/AIDS in Africa: Reflections from the Clinic, Field, and Classroom.”

Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Elsie Addo-Awadzi, Second Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, and Prof. Clifford Nii Boi Tagoe, a former Vice-Chancellor of the UG, all attended the event.

In addition, there were representatives from the Ghana AIDS Commission, the World Health Organization, USAID, the Society for AIDS in Africa, and the Ministry of Health.


Prof. Torpey, who has over 26 years of experience in the fields of medicine, science, research, and training, stated that there were approximately 39 million HIV-positive individuals living in Africa, with 20.8 million of them residing in East and Southern Africa and 4.8 million in West and Central Africa.

According to UNAIDS data from 2023, one person dies from HIV every minute. This is the same as the 650,000 deaths brought on by HIV.

“In addition, 4,000 new illnesses occur every day. 4,000 teenage girls and adolescent women contract the disease every week. Last year, around 84,000 youngsters died of HIV.

In his words, “If we do not make deliberate and intentioned efforts to improve access of all populations to health services, a public health imperative, ending AIDS in Africa will be a pipe dream.”

Prof. Torpey stated that “HIV in children was a blot on the conscience of humanity” about mother-to-child transmission (MTCT).

“This is because we have the skills and methods to eradicate pediatric HIV,” says the researcher.

During pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and while nursing, he noted, “HIV can be transmitted vertically or from mother to child.”

“Ghana has established an auditing tool for babies who are HIV positive. If properly implemented, this will help us understand why our babies are infected, including whether their mothers went to an antenatal clinic but did not receive antiretroviral therapy (ARVs), did receive ARVs but did not take them as prescribed, or seroconverted from HIV negative to positive while they were pregnant and nursing, the expert said.

Combating HIV

Prof. Torpey went on to say that programs to fight HIV could only be successful with strong governance and leadership, funding, and human resource allocation, among other activities.

In order to better serve its citizens and show its commitment to a coordinated national response, Ghana must act quickly to boost its domestic HIV contribution.’

The Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Ghana continued, “The availability of the long-acting agents will require us as a country to start making changes in the health and community systems to respond to these new advancements.”

“Ending AIDS in Africa is feasible, but we must aggressively cut down the new infections through combination prevention strategies, identification and improving access to treatment for all populations, identifying and removing structural barriers which limit access to treatment and the strengthening of community health systems to respond to the evolving needs of the epidemic,” he said.

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