LAHORE – The country is observing yet another World AIDS Day today (December 1) when bridging gap between the number of identified and actual HIV positive patients is still the biggest challenge like in the previous years.
The event is observed globally on December 1 since 1988 for raising awareness about the pandemic, preventive measures and treatment of HIV positive patients.
Like the previous years, public sector and private institutions have planned performing the usual ritual of holding seminars, walks and symposiums to mark the day but without any sincere efforts to identify all HIV positive patients and raise awareness to stop transmission of the deadly virus to other people.
So far about 11,000 people have been tested HIV/AIDS positive. The United Nations, however, estimated that the HIV/AIDS patients in Pakistan are from 87,000 to 120,000. As such majority of the patients are yet to be identified that poses threat of transmission of virus to healthy individuals through matrimonial and extra marital relations, unscreened blood transfusion and reuse of syringes.
Though majority of the events will be arranged today, the Punjab AIDS Control Program organized an awareness seminar yesterday, a day prior to the global observance of World AIDS Day.
Minister Primary and Secondary Healthcare Kh Imran Nazir was the chief guest.
PACP invited more than 300 HIV positive children who were given gifts by the chief gust.
It was informed that since 1998 to date 11295 HIV positive cases have been reported in Punjab and PACP was bearing treatment expenses of 7742 registered HIV/AIDS patients.
PACP is running nine consultative, 13 diagnostic centers for HIV/AIDS. Moreover, there are four centers for controlling transmission of HIV virus from the infected pregnant women to their babies.
Addressing the participants, Kh Imran Nazir said that Punjab was the only province with approved PC-I of HIV/AIDS Control up to 2019. He said that anti viral medicines for AIDS patients were costly and not available in the market. He said that PACP has started to prepare a databank of infection careers for which screening of truck drivers and cleaners has been started during the last month. He said that special teams of Health Department were deputed for blood samples collection at Babu Sabu truck stand for screening of diabetes, hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS and blood grouping. He said that after screening, people with negative samples would be vaccinated against hepatitis B. In case HIV positive, he would be provided free treatment. He said that government has launched a comprehensive program to prevent diseases for which special attention has been paid to hospital waste management, controlling of reuse of disposable syringes and creating awareness for barbers, dentists regarding sterilization of tools before use. He said that regular awareness campaigns were essential. Director PACP Dr Adnan Zafar highlighted the achievements of PACP.