World AIDS Day: ‘Negligence and medical waste are spreading AIDS’

Dr Sarfaraz believes Anti Retroviral Therapy is effective and can help an HIV patient live a long life


Our Correspondent December 03, 2014

KARACHI: What is the root cause of AIDS? According to doctors at a seminar held at Ziauddin University, it is negligence on the physician’s part.

“Human Immunode-ficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) can spread through hospital waste,” said Dr Samreen Sarfaraz, the associate consultant of Infectious Diseases at Indus Hospital. “Many times hospitals dump used needles and medical equipment just outside their premises. This waste can become a source of transmitting the disease, especially among street children.” She added that HIV/AIDS could easily spread through sex workers or drug addicts who reuse needles.

Dr Sarfaraz claimed that a disease such as HIV was invisible to the human eye but doctors and medical staff see it on a daily basis.

“When we are collecting the patient’s history, they are not very forthcoming about their sexual history,” she said. “At first, they usually deny everything but once the doctors gain their trust, they are more open about it.”

While talking about Anti Retroviral Therapy, she said that it was an effective method and the therapy could help an HIV patient live a long life.

Dr Farheen Ali, the head of internal medicine at GlaxoSmithKline, explained what they meant by negligence while talking about Jalalpur Jattan, a small town in Gujrat. “An NGO tested the population of Jalalpur Jattan - 256 people,” she said. “Above 80 individuals were found to be infected with HIV and almost 90 per cent of them were infected due to the usage of non-sterilised dental equipment or injections and blades used by barbers.”

According to Dr Saleem Azam, the president of a society which works for the welfare of HIV patients, shared statistics of how many people in Pakistan had AIDS. He claimed that out of the one million which tested positive for HIV, 50 per cent were in Sindh and out of which 80 per cent were in Karachi.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2014.

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