Alexander Quaisie is changing the narrative about HIV in Ghana by championing the U=U (U equals U) campaign Alexander Quaisie, co-founder and CEO of Verifie health is a health-tech entrepreneur who is improving access to sexual and reproductive health services through the use of technology and innovation to encourage testing for the youth in Ghana.
His mobile and web application, Verifie, has since 2018 offered more than 3000 people access to safe and affordable testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections and reproductive health products such as contraceptives, condoms, and HIV self-test kits.
On December 1, 2022 Alexander and his team of more than 70 volunteers aggregated more than 600 people to offer screening and education on HIV as well as introduce a daring yet data-driven and internationally accepted concept of U=U. According to him, this simply means undetectable equals untransmittable.
This, he went on to explain, means “if a person is living with HIV and taking their medications regularly they eventually have an undetectable HIV viral load and cannot transmit it sexually to their partner, even without the use of a condom.“
This is a far cry from what we always knew and understood given that HIV is such a deadly virus and only condoms can prevent an HIV-positive partner from infecting an HIV-negative partner.
He added that this meant serodiscordant couples, one positive and the other negative can now start families and have HIV-negative children without any special interventions apart from the antiretroviral drug therapy.
With U=U, he explains, people living with HIV and their partners are encouraged to continue taking their medications which will contribute to the end of AIDS in 2030. He optimistically describes the U=U message as that of hope and a game changer to how we all perceive HIV today.
Co-founder and chief operating officer of Verifie, Claudia Owusu in her speech also mentioned that “the U=U message serves as a conduit to break the fear and stigma about HIV and encourage voluntary testing and increased access to treatment.”
She also encouraged her fellow health workers to spread this message to their patients and others who are not even affected by HIV. She alluded that “A proper universal understanding of U=U does not only break stigma and discrimination, but also promotes procreation, and improves the quality of life of people living with and affected by HIV.” During the event, 2 young ladies in their 20s shared their testimony about living with HIV for more than 20 years and remaining undetectable.
This all happened during the annual World AIDS Day for the youth commemoration event which took place at the Accra Digital Centre organized by Verifie Health and supported by international partners UNAIDS, French Embassy to Ghana, European Union, DKT International and endorsed by Ghana AIDS Commission and the National AIDS Control Program.