HIV in Ghana is on the rise

HIV information

Ghana has been struggling to reduce the number of HIV infections for years. In this region, there are around 150,000 people with HIV. In 2014, the HIV prevalence rate was recorded at 1.37%, with the lowest rates registered in the north region of Ghana, and the highest in the east.

To control this epidemic, the government appointed the Ghana AIDS Commission. This commission is in charge of handling the treatment, awareness, and education for HIV and AIDS-related health issues.

But, despite the increased awareness and access to HIV treatment, this disease in the Sub-Saharan African region is still one of the most common causes of death. Statistics from 2017 show that HIV was, in fact, responsible for 13,878 deaths.

The Rates of HIV Infections in Ghana Keep Increasing

There is a drastic increase in individuals infected with HIV, according to the Ghana AIDS Commission.

Based on the 2018 statistics, there were 19,931 newly recorded HIV infections, stated the commission in a most recent announcement in 2019, December 1. Their announcement was released to the community through media, mosques, and churches.

3,317 of the newly infected were young children between the ages of 0 and 14, while the rest of the 16,614 were adults.

The most common ways of transmission for the 334,717 already living with HIV, are through:

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse
  • Using various unsterilized sharp instruments.
  • mother-to-child transmission (MTCT)

Statistics from 2016 show the same results, the number of newly infected individuals from 2010 to 2016 increased by a staggering 21%. The most infected were those between the ages of 15 and 24, which are 45% of all the infected.

While Ghana has successfully managed to reduce other common STIs infections by 16%, HIV still remains a serious problem.

What Is Being Done to Control HIV in Ghana?

To ensure access to medicines for HIV treatment, the PEPFAR (The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) has issued $23.7 million for AIDS and HIV treatment in Ghana. With the help of additional programs, PEPFAR has implemented a load of viral testing to prevent and control the spread of the infection in this region.

The Network of Persons living with AIDS and HIV in Ghana have been urging the government to boost their District Assemblies Common Fund to provide more funding for HIV and AIDS treatment.

A conference was held in May 2018 to propose new measures for controlling the HIV disease. Some of the leading institutions that participated in the conference were the CDC – Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. HIV Research Program. At the conference, the government stated they would assess implications by 2020 in an effort to end AIDS and HIV by 2030.

HIV infections are still a pressing matter for Ghana

HIV infections are still a pressing matter for Ghana. This epidemic has forced the region to start working on implementing a series of programs and policies to stop the spread of the disease and better-manage the infection. More time is necessary, however, to see the full extent of these changes and whether they will have any positive results.

References

https://www.myjoyonline.com/lifestyle/2019/November-29th/hiv-infections-on-the-rise-19000-new-cases-recorded-in-2018-ghana-aids-commission.php

http://www.healthdata.org/sites/default/files/files/images/news_release/2019/HIV%20Press%20Release%20-%20GHANA.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIV/AIDS_in_Ghana

https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Government-raises-concern-as-HIV-infections-increase-by-21-650173

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6527824/

Congenital Syphilis is On the Rise with Developing Countries at a Major Risk

Syphilis information

Congenital syphilis is the second cause of stillbirths around the world, malaria being the first. This infection is an incredibly common STIs that has resulted in more than 200,000 stillbirths across the globe. Plus, there are 6 million new reported cases of infected every single year.

In order to eliminate this infection on a global scale, the WHO has made it their mission to give access to adequate syphilis treatment and testing for any pregnant woman. The idea is to boost the overall health and improve the survival rate of children born in developing countries.

However, these countries, particularly in the sub-Saharan African region, have long been struggling to deal with the infection. It seems that they have yet to fulfill their goal of dealing with congenital syphilis.

Read more: Syphilis Symptoms

The Importance of Early Syphilis Diagnostics for Pregnant Women

With the current advances in science and technology, there are adequate medications that can help treat this infection. Plus, it is easily preventable, so people can take precautions to avoid this infection altogether.

For pregnant women, however, the timing has to be impeccable. These women need to seek syphilis screenings early in the pregnancy to receive benzathine penicillin G (BPG). The best time for this screening would be right before the second trimester.

Shortage of Benzathine Penicillin Puts a Strain on Syphilis Treatment

In many parts of the world, WHO has been successful in eliminating congenital syphilis in pregnant women. Twelve countries have managed to eliminate maternal syphilis completely. For developing countries, however, it’s a completely different story.

Read More: Syphilis Treatment

In these countries, there is one major issue, and that is the shortage of benzathine penicillin.

Based on an analysis carried out by multiple research programs for health, of the 95 countries evaluated, 49% had BPG shortages, while 59% stated they had adequate supplies for all their patients.

Due to BPG shortages, 10 of these countries stated relying on alternative and cheaper treatment.

They used ceftriaxone, erythromycin, and amoxicillin. The problem is that these treatments were not nearly as effective as BPG for maternal syphilis. In other words, women who received these treatments could still pass their infection onto the fetus.

The Need for Immediate Action Is Now

According to WHO, 95% of all pregnant women who get prenatal care should be screened for congenital syphilis. Testing for syphilis is of utmost importance for early and adequate syphilis treatment.

This should be the main concern for prenatal care for all countries. If a woman is diagnosed with this infection, she needs to get proper BPG treatment to make sure the infection is no longer in her system.

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Product: One Step Syphilis Test

Monitoring Health Is the Key to Eliminating Congenital Syphilis

Once a woman has been treated for syphilis, especially when pregnant, her health must be monitored closely to make sure the infection doesn’t reappear or progress. This helps detect the infection early on and receive treatment to avoid any potential complications.

Congenital syphilis can be easily managed

Congenital syphilis can be easily managed and treated. But, without an on-time diagnosis, a pregnant woman can pass this infection onto her child and cause premature death, low infant weight, defects, and can cause deformities. As a result, syphilis screening and treatment should be a top priority for all developing countries.

References

https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/congenital-syphilis-estimates/en/

https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/shortages-benzathine-penicillin/en/ https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/congenital-syphilis/WHO-validation-EMTCT/en/

1 in 9 Men Has Oral HPV

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US. In fact, most sexually active men and women will contract HPV at some point in their life. More than 100 types of HPV have been identified so far, and more than 40 subtypes of the virus can infect one’s throat and genital region. Oral HPV is transmitted through oral sex, and it is one of the most prevalent forms of the virus. The latest figures show that one in nine American men is infected with oral HPV, which is a major reason for concern.

Prevalence of oral HPV among American men

Even though the prevalence of HPV-positive OPSCC (oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma) is high among men, the evidence about the difference in the prevalence of oral HPV among men and women is limited. The lack of data prevents scientists and healthcare providers from proposing adequate measures to lower the prevalence rates.

What’s more, concordance of genital and oral HPV among African men is still unknown. To get more insight into the subject and gain knowledge about the prevalence of oral HPV, Ashish A. Deshmukh, and a team of scientists at the University of Florida carried out an important study. Deshmukh and his team used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to analyze the rates of oral HPV and compare how many women and men are infected with this virus. Participants who took part in this large study were between 18 and 69 years old.

The results of the study were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and they showed that 11.5% of participants had HPV. Expectedly, the prevalence of both low- and high-risk HPV was higher in men than in women. For example, only 1.4% of women were infected with high-risk HPV, while 7.3% of men had this sexually transmitted infection. Both men and women from the 50-54 age group had a higher prevalence of the virus compared to their younger and older counterparts.

Findings also showed that 11 million men had oral HPV or one in nine men to be more precise. On the other hand, only 3.2 million women had this type of virus. It is still not clear why HPV is more frequent in men than in women.

Increasing rates of high-risk HPV

As mentioned above, men are more prone to high-risk HPV, and scientists just discovered how common this virus really is. They discovered that the most prevalent high-risk type of the virus, HPV 16, was six times higher in men than in women with a ratio of 1.8% vs. 0.3%.

The HPV 16 is a major contributor to cancers of the head and neck. These figures could also explain the rise incidence of oropharyngeal cancer. The rates of this cancer have increased by more than 300% during the last four decades, thus making it the most frequent HPV-related cancer in the country.

Other findings

Along with shocking findings of the prevalence of oral HPV and high-risk virus strains, scientists made other important discoveries too:

  • High-risk oral HPV was strongly linked with cigarette smoking and marijuana use
  • In 2016, 60% of teens ages 13-17 received at least one or more doses of HPV vaccine
  • Oral HPV is more prevalent in African-American men than in white men
  • The highest rates of oral HPV were found in men who reported having sexual intercourse with multiple partners, men with genital HPV, and men who had sex with other men

Conclusion

The latest study discovered that not only HPV is more prevalent in men, but oral HPV affects one in nine American men. At this point, scientists aren’t sure why the virus is more prevalent among men than in women, but risk factors include same-sex with other men, smoking (both cigarettes and marijuana), engaging in sexual intercourse with multiple partners.

References

http://annals.org/aim/article/2657698/oral-human-papillomavirus-infection-differences-prevalence-between-sexes-concordance-genital

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/16/health/oral-hpv-infections-men-study/index.html

http://time.com/4983675/human-papillomavirus-oral-hpv/