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Speakers suggest increasing public awareness to prevent HIV

Mass level awareness programme coupled with treatment centres should be introduced to address increasing issue of HIV/AIDS.

Speakers said on Saturday at a seminar on the prevention of HIV/AIDS organized by AWARE in collaboration with the Sindh AIDS Control Programme (SACP) and Oxfam. “HIV is a silent killer, which weakens the human immune system and its ratio has been increased due to poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy and lack of medical facilities and development,” they observed.

Sindh AIDS Control Programme (SACP) Manager Dr Younis Chachar said that the (SACP) management has deiced to establish nine more HIV/AIDS treatment and diagnostic centres across Sindh. He also informed that divisional and district level task force will devise strategy to control the prevalence HIV/AIDS in Sindh through a proper monitoring and surveillance system.

Besides, campaigns aimed at creating awareness among masses about HIV/AIDS will be launched with the cooperation of religious scholars, media persons and health care providers. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 HIV/AIDS infected people are living in Pakistan and of them, 45,000 are in Sindh. More than 17000 people are registered in National AIDS Control Program and more than 8000 were having treatment till November 2016, he added.

At the outset, SACP’s Dr. Sikander Iqbal said that in all 1157 HIV/AIDS positive cases; 1,017 are male, 122 are female, whereas there are 18 transgender reported during 2015. While 304 people had died of HIV/AIDS since 2004 and 26 met with the same fate by this year. More than 5,000 HIV/AIDS patients are registered in Sindh, unsafe sexual intercourse, repetition of used syringes, unsafe blood transfusion, and unsafe apparatus usage during operational procedures are the main causes of HIV/AIDS, he added.

Dr Moiz Ali Shah shared his views that due to low literacy rate and taboos, HIV/AIDS affected persons don’t dare to share, so there is a need to educate the masses and myths should be broken before them. Ali Mohammad Panhwar from Population Welfare Department said that in Sindh the situation is very dangerous.

All stakeholders should take this issue very seriously, otherwise in near future HIV/AIDS will spread rapidly and will be difficult to control, he warned. Mumtaz Arisar shared that in Umerkot district out of 38 laboratories, 37 are unregistered. The unregistered laboratories run by unauthorized persons and quacks are the major cause of spreading HIV/AIDS or other viral diseases. He urged upon the authorities to devise a mechanism for check and balance at district levels in this regard.

Mohammad Siddique from AWARE said that, there are some stakeholders working on awareness, but it is mandatory to establish treatment facilities and psychological therapy centers. Sindh AIDS Control Program is working good but needs more outreach as people can access their services without any difficulty. HIV/AIDS patients need more psycho-social care as well and should not be treated and dealt with hatred and agony, he urged for.

Around 90% of the AIDS victims are living in the developing countries, where the incidence rate is aggravated by poverty, hunger, disease, lack of medical facilities, illiteracy and under-development. Dr Madhori Lakhani, Dr Nisar Shaikh and others also shared their views.

Source: Daily Times

Byline: Zeeshan Hashmi

December 25, 2016

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