The Programmes Manager of the National AIDS/STI Control Programme has disclosed that most men who have sex with men in Ghana are bi-sexual, which exposes their regular female partners to the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
Dr Stephen Ayisi Addo said: “We have noticed in our data that a lot of the men who have sex with men in Ghana are young and are bi-sexual; what it means is that though they practice homosexuality, they have sex with females.”
Dr Addo disclosed this during the fifth edition of the Tema office of the Ghana News Agency stakeholder engagement on the topic, ‘Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS, who enforces it: the legal basis for churches demanding HIV/AIDS test from would-be partners? Role of partners of infected individual.’
He explained that as an HIV high-risk population with a prevalence rate of 18 per cent, such homosexuals that were also bi-sexual served as bridging populations just like female sex workers.
“So they get the high risk from homosexuality and give to their female partners and then they too transmit to other partners,” he said.
Touching on the ongoing debate on Lesbians, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender (LGBT+) issues in Ghana, he stressed that their responsibility as health workers was to provide care for all health-related issues that might occur from the act but not to promote it as they saw it as a private behaviour.
“As a Programme, we have the responsibility to reduce HIV in all high-risk population groups that is where it ends; we have an obligation to treat them. However, our responsibility is not to promote the behaviour because we see it as private,” he said.
He stressed that: “I will take care of you because I am a health worker. But, as a Programme, I always draw the clear lines that though it is sex and sexual orientation that is high risk and have a relationship with prevalence, it is private.
“Ours is to deal with all consequences as a result of the behaviour, and so as part of it, we prevent by giving education so that people don’t engage in risky behaviours, but we will not promote it”.
Explaining the high prevalence rate among the LGBT+ population, Dr Addo said it was due to the likelihood of getting bruises and cuts in the anus during their sexual preference, making it easy to transmit the disease.
Touching on the current data of HIV infections in Ghana, he revealed that the national prevalence rate stood at 1.7 per cent, among pregnant women attending antenatal was 15 per cent, while female sex workers who have multiple partners was 4.6 per cent.
Dr Addo said as of 2020, an estimated number of 346,120 people were living with HIV in Ghana, out of which more than 80 per cent were females.
He added that the new infection recorded was approximately 19,000, with about 14,000 deaths in 2020.
Francis Ameyibor, Tema Regional Manager of GNA, said the engagement, which takes place on the last Wednesday of every month, was a progressive media caucus platform created to allow both state and non-state stakeholders to interact with journalists and address national issues.
Mr Ameyibor said the Agency used the platform to deepen the working relations with the stakeholders to ensure that both the media and the corporate world worked together towards national development.
The event also served as a motivational mechanism to recognise the editorial contribution of reporters to the professional growth and promotion of Tema GNA as the industrial news hub while contributing to national development in general.