As a new surveillance report revealed that there are over 100,000 people infected with HIV across the country, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to establish Family Care Centres at divisional headquarters across the province.
The Integrated Behavioral and Biological Surveillance report had revealed that 123,000 people were infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) across the country. Of these, the survey found, around 56,000 cases were confirmed in Sindh — including some 24,000 in Karachi alone, 64,000 from Punjab, and around 10,000 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). The rest were confirmed in Balochistan.
Interestingly, the K-P government had been basing their information on a 20-year-old survey which stated that there were around 2,900 people in the province who were infected with HIV AIDS.
Dr Ayub Roz, who has been leading an integrated programme for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and thalassaemia in the province, said that they were now also working with the prisons department since a number of cases had been reported from the jails.
He added that they were working with donor agencies to distribute screening kits at prisons across the province.
“People have always been hesitating to come forward [to acknowledge HIV infection] and it always ends in a silent death, apart from transferring the virus from one person to another,” Dr Roz told The Express Tribune adding, “the only reason for refusing to screen is the stigma, since once diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, patients are mostly isolated by society.”
Health officials said that they had planned to organise mandatory screenings for hepatitis B, C and HIV/AIDs before conducting any surgical procedure. They said that a summary has been drafted in this regard and will soon be sent for approval from the concerned government officials.
“You cannot even think about going for surgeries without screening for these diseases in developed countries and it was highlighted by medics since they fear a transfer of the virus [from patient to patient],” he explained.
The newly set up family centres have been offering screening facilities to people in select districts. The provincial government, though, has yet to establish such centres at other divisional headquarters even though a decision in this regard has been taken.
Farooq, Umer. KP to expand family care centres in province. The Express Tribune, October 23, 2017.