Illegal mining popularly known as galamsey is a major factor in the increase of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV/AIDS) infections in the country, the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) has said.
According to the commission, the galamsey menace has compelled the citizens to engage in indiscriminate and unprotected sex.
Dr. Kyeremeh Atuahene, the Director-General of the AIDS Commission said “The galamsey menace can substantially contribute to the new infections and further undermine progress towards achieving the elimination agenda. A recent study that assessed the impact of national resource extraction projects on HIV transmission risks in local communities in sub-Saharan countries, including Ghana, reports that mine openings increase the odds of HIV infections almost two folds.”
Speaking at a ceremony to mark World AIDS day in Accra, he noted that “It also found that new mine openings were associated with increased risky sexual behaviours such as multiple partners, high-risk sexual partners, and unprotected sex with high-risk partners.”
Statistics from the National STIs and HIV/AIDS Control Programme indicated that a total of 23,495 people tested positive for HIV in the first half of 2022.
The figure is two percent of the 948,094 people who undertook HIV testing from January to June 2022, the Programme Manager of the National STIs and HIV/AIDS Control Programme, Dr. Stephen Ayisi Addo has said.
He said most of the 23,495 people who tested positive had since been put on HIV treatment.
As result, a network of institutions leading the HIV and AIDS response in the country has begun national stakeholder engagements as part of processes to review interventions for better outcomes.