“AIDS should not be considered a stigma and those suffering from the disease should not be discriminated against,” speakers at a seminar on AIDS said on Monday.
Minister Khwaja Salman Rafique, Punjab AIDS Control Programme Director Salman Shahid, Health Services DG Amjad Shehzad and Global Fund representative Dr Sajid attended the seminar in connection with World AIDS Day.
Rafique said the UN’s AIDS Control Programme’s Strategy for 2016 to 2020 was being effectively implemented across the province. He said the provincial government had been spending Rs400 million annually on the programme. More funds would be provided in this regard, he said. Rafique said that apart from the government, the civil society, NGOs, the media and religious leaders should strive together for the prevention of AIDS. He called for efforts to educate the public about AIDS. He said legislation would be introduced soon to empower Blood Transfusion Authority to ensure safe blood transfusion. Salman Shahid said accessing HIV patients was a big challenge because most of them were usually reluctant to report the disease for various reasons. He said that 6,152 registered AIDS patients in the province were being provided free treatment. He said a programme had also been started to protect the babies of women affected by AIDS. He said of the 177 pregnant women suffering from AIDS, two babies had been born HIV positive.
Dr Sajid said the Punjab was leading the way in the country in efforts to control the disease.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2015.
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