Fighting the disease: Experts urge awareness and prevention on World AIDS Day

Say people must use condoms and be screened for blood transfusions

Ali Ousat December 01, 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

LAHORE: With HIV/AIDS spreading rapidly in the country, health experts have suggested that people with multiple sexual partners must use condoms. They also stressed that patients must avoid unscreened blood transfusion during a surgery.

“Man to man sex, sex with multiple sexual partners, unscreened blood transfusion, breastfeeding with infected mothers, illiterate midwives, quacks and haircuts without sterilized equipment are the main cause of the spread,” commented Dr Zafarullah of the Mayo Hospital’s Aids Control Centre as he spoke on World AIDS Day on Thursday (December 1).

Dr Zafar said an alarming 20 to 25 patients are being treated on a daily basis at the medical facility. He stressed it was important to understand the gravity of the situation.

“A ban should be imposed on quackery at any cost as it is also among the main causes of the disease spreading,” he continued.

Dr Attaullah from Jinnah Hospital shared independent data of AIDS patients in Punjab with The Express Tribune.

“In Punjab alone, there are 65,000 AIDS patients and the government is hiding the data to cover its tracks” he added.  The doctor stated that a study conducted by different independent researchers revealed that the number of patients in Pakistan is 125,000.

He stressed on the need to start a vigorous campaign to promote public awareness on preventive AIDS measures. He added it was the responsibility of the government of Punjab to initiate such a move.

The government’s role

Punjab Aids Control Programme Head Dr Adnan Zafar told The Express Tribune that billions are being spent on implementing a comprehensive plan to prevent such diseases. He added that in order to curb AIDS in the province, the health department was establishing labs and control centers in different areas

“So far, 8,600 positive AIDS patients have been registered around Punjab and are being provided free health care services,” he said.

Adnan added said that Punjab AIDS Control Programme (PACP) was running nine consultative and 13 diagnostic centres. He stated that there were also four centres working on controlling the transmission of the virus from infected pregnant women to their expected babies.

Adnan reiterated the need to create awareness among the people about preventive measures against AIDS. He added that a healthy lifestyle was the most effective defence. He said that Punjab government was providing free medicines and test facilities to patients under the AIDS Control Programme, while blood screening has been made compulsory for transfusion.

No campaigns in DG Khan

Every month, around 30 patients test HIV positive in Dera Ghazi Khan, but not a single programme or seminar was orgaisned to create public awareness for World AIDS Day on December 1.

According to data provided by non-governmental organisation Nai Umeed, more than 8,000 HIV positive people are in DG Khan while over 25,000 people with the disease are in South Punjab. Talking to The Express Tribune, Nai Umeed President Rehmat Raza Khosa said a large number of HIV patients live on the outskirts of DG Khan. “There is dire need to take steps on a war-footing to prevent this disease,” he added.

He added around 2,050 patients are registered in Southern Punjab’ only treatment centre in DG Khan, which is being run under the Punjab Aids Control Programme.  Around 1,600 of them are men and 380
are women.


Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2016.


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