Fast-track strategy needed to fight HIV epidemic in Pakistan

Pakistan is home to around 100,000 confirmed HIV sufferers

Our Correspondent November 30, 2016
A man holds a red ribbon to mark World Aids Day, at the entrance of Emilio Ribas Hospital, in Sao Paulo December 1, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan needs to implement the United Nations fast-track strategy if it wants to end the HIV epidemic by 2030.

This call came from UNAIDS Country Director Dr Mamadou Sahko on Wednesday at a media briefing in Islamabad ahead of World AIDs Day on Thursday (today). The new UNAIDS report details how countries can reach the 22 million people still being left behind in the response to HIV.

The unsuspecting transmitters of HIV in Peshawar

“The UN General Assembly’s special assembly meeting on HIV galvanised the world to a fast-track response on the road to ending AIDS by 2030. With the fast-track approach through accelerating effective and efficient HIV prevention, community-based testing, treatment, and human rights, we can shrink new infections to 2,000 a year by 2020,” Dr Sahko said.

“Through this strategy, we can bring health, equality, social justice, and dignity for all key populations in Pakistan.”

During the briefing, UNAIDS assured Pakistan of its full technical and strategic support to work in partnerships with all key stakeholders including the government, parliamentarians, UN agencies, private sector, religious leaders, academia, media and most importantly with civil society and communities to protect the human rights of HIV-positive people.

Pakistan is home to around 100,000 confirmed HIV sufferers, and the prevalence rate among adults is less than 0.1 per cent. Of these, there are 30,000 women and 2,500 children living with HIV. AIDS claimed around 3,600 lives last year, the agency said.

HIV/Aids cases on the rise in Pakistan, says report

Dr Abdul Baseer Khan Achakzai, the national programme manager at the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), said the government was trying to curb new infections.

“The government is committed to scaling up targeted and focused interventions through location and populations approach to reach out to vulnerable, marginalised and fragile communities to prevent new HIV infections, to foster an organised national response, improve the health and quality of life of people with or affected by HIV, and to scale up community-based HIV testing in order to bridge the gap between registered and estimated HIV cases,” he said.

Dr Achakzai further said that the government is providing free HIV treatment, testing and counselling services.

Earlier, UN Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne said that the “media has a very important role in dissemination of HIV prevention messages.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2016.



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