17% HIV positive Pakistanis unaware of their affliction
Islamabad :As many as 17 per cent of the Pakistanis living with HIV/AIDS are completely unaware of their affliction. Effective management of blood transfusion and injection safety procedures, coupled with a collaborative approach based on active community involvement, can help turn the tide against the HIV epidemic, which is spreading fast in Asia, with Pakistan being the region’s worst-affected country.
Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza expressed these views while addressing participants of an awareness walk organised here Monday to observe World AIDS Day. This year’s theme for the day is ‘Communities make the difference,’ which essentially means that it is through communities that the menace of HIV/AIDS can be eradicated.
“Our work is more urgent than ever. We need to rethink our essential public health programmes; reassess the response that has to be generated to fight the epidemic; and develop a collaborative and collective approach to develop uniform interventions to address HIV/AIDS,” Dr. Zafar stated while underlining the need for coherent ways to understand the underlying reasons of the spread of the disease.
“As a public health person, I believe treatment is the last resort where prevention is possible. What is preventable must be prevented. I also believe that it is through communities that we can mobilise and explore means of preventing the disease. Blood-borne diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C require effective management of blood transfusion and injection safety procedures. Moreover, we need to have regular financing to sustain existing interventions,” Dr. Zafar maintained.
The Ministry of National Health Services has formed a task force on injection safety usage. Efforts are also afoot to scale up the existing community-based HIV prevention model. “The HIV/AIDS surveillance system will be strengthened and shall link prevention and treatment services. Domestic resources will be mobilized by initiating a financing dialogue with relevant line ministries, especially in high-prevalence provinces. Similarly, to address stigma and discrimination, efforts will be ensued for effective implementation of legislation,” Dr. Zafar said, adding “And that is why as Minister, I am going to keep making sure that the government takes unprecedented measures to prevent HIV spread.”
Pakistan has committed to responding to the needs and demands of key populations through their participation in preventive approaches and adopting high-impact methods at the grassroot levels to end AIDS by 2030.