Dean of the University of Ghana’s School of Public Health, Prof. Kwasi Torpey, has raised concerns about the risk of HIV and blood-borne infections among individuals who inject drugs in Ghana.
In research conducted by Prof. Torpey’s team across four regions in 2022, it was found that HIV prevalence among drug users who also inject is 2.5%.
Notably, the prevalence was higher among women who injected drugs, with 12.7% among those who were solely drug users and 17.7% among those also involved in sex work.
“We found HIV prevalence of 2.5 percent among persons who used and injected drugs. Unfortunately, the prevalence was 12.7 percent among women who injected drugs and 17.7 percent among women who injected drugs and were also sex workers.
“These results point to a simple fact that the country is at the cusp of an outbreak of HIV and blood-borne infections among persons who inject drugs,” he said.
During an inaugural lecture titled “Ending HIV/AIDS in Africa: Reflections from the clinic, field, and classroom,” organized by the University of Ghana, Prof. Torpey highlighted his findings.
He emphasized that these results suggest a looming risk of an HIV and blood-borne infection outbreak among individuals who inject drugs.
Furthermore, Prof. Torpey stressed the vital need for intentional efforts to improve health service access for all populations, asserting that without such efforts, ending the AIDS epidemic in Africa would remain a distant goal.
Citing UNAIDS data, he highlighted the severity of the ongoing epidemic, with a life being lost to HIV every minute, 650,000 annual HIV-related deaths, and 4,000 new infections occurring daily.
The inaugural lecture was attended by various dignitaries, including the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, officials from the Ghana Health Service, the Bank of Ghana, and representatives from international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and USAID, as well as local health commissions and ministries.