GHANA—Ghana has intensified its efforts to promote the use of free pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as a crucial strategy in the prevention of HIV.

This initiative is being undertaken with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and various partners.

HIV remains a severe global public health concern, having claimed 40.4 million lives to date and persisting in transmission across all countries, with some nations experiencing a resurgence in new infections after previous declines.

According to WHO Africa, an estimated 39.0 million individuals were living with HIV at the close of 2022, with 25.6 million of them residing in Africa.

In 2022 alone, 630,000 people succumbed to HIV-related causes, while 1.3 million individuals contracted the virus.

Although there is no cure for HIV infection, access to excellent prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care, including for opportunistic infections, has transformed HIV into a manageable chronic health condition. This allows individuals living with HIV to lead long and healthy lives.

International organizations such as WHO, the Global Fund, and UNAIDS have developed global HIV plans aligned with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3.3, aiming to end the HIV pandemic by 2030.

By 2025, their goal is for 95% of all persons living with HIV (PLHIV) to be diagnosed, with 95% of them receiving life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART) and 95% of those on treatment achieving a suppressed viral load for their health benefit and to reduce onward HIV transmission.

Despite a 38% reduction in new HIV infections in Ghana since 2010, over 16,500 new infections were still reported in 2022.

WHO officially endorsed oral PrEP in 2015, and currently, nearly every African nation has established oral PrEP policies.

This preventive measure significantly reduces the risk of HIV acquisition by more than 90%, playing a critical role in revitalizing Ghana’s HIV prevention efforts.

PrEP complements other prevention strategies, such as condom use and providing HIV treatment to pregnant women, aiming to reduce mother-to-child transmission.

Dr. Francis Kasolo, WHO Representative in Ghana, emphasized the importance of PrEP as a vital component in the HIV prevention toolkit, addressing gaps and expanding the range of prophylactic strategies available to those at high risk of HIV.

WHO and partners developed national PrEP guidelines in 2020, with support from the United States Development Agency for International Development (USAID), and revised them this year.

In collaboration with civil society organizations like the Ghana-West Africa Programme to Combat AIDS and STIs, community outreach is ongoing to educate people about HIV prevention programs, including PrEP.

Dr. Stephen Ayisi-Addo, the program manager at Ghana’s National AIDS Control Programme, highlighted the progress in the availability and accessibility of PrEP treatments.

According to him, the country aims to leverage community champions to enhance PrEP knowledge and patronage, especially for those at high risk of HIV infection.

WHO and partners plan to convene stakeholders from across the African Region in Ghana to discuss building member states’ capacity for the adoption of PrEP innovations.

This initiative aims to scale up accessibility across the continent, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The incorporation of the PrEP-IT Tool, a web-based platform for PrEP implementation planning, monitoring, and evaluation, is part of this effort, along with integrating tailored programming into national policies and guidelines as part of the HIV prevention toolbox.