KARACHI, Aug 8: Sindh has reported 213 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases, which are about 20 per cent more than the year’s first quarter cases, during the April-June quarter, said a Sindh Aids Control Programme report released on Wednesday.
Besides, 10 more cases of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids) were reported at different treatment centres of the SACP from April to June. The programme had reported another 10 new Aids cases during its January-March quarter.
Fearing a surge of the cases to be registered with the programme in the coming months, SACP Manager Dr Arshad Mahmood said that screening against the dreaded disease had also increased because more and more people falling in the vulnerable groups were getting their status timely checked.
According to him, there has been a significant increase in the level of awareness among the masses as social stigma associated with HIV has weakened with the efforts of health providers under the supervision of the Sindh health department and SACP.
It was for this reason that timely detection and treatment of HIV cases had become possible in the province, he said.
Since 1996, in all 4,712 people, including 232 women and 52 children, infected with HIV have been registered in addition to 215 full-blown cases of Aids comprising 184 men, 29 women and two children found across the province, according to SACP surveillance data.
A source in the programme said that the trends of HIV infections were almost similar to the rate of prevalence of the infection in different population segments — injecting drug users (IDU), male sex workers (MSWs), hijra sex workers (HSWs), and female sex workers (FSWs).
According to the national HIV/Aids surveillance project report of 2011, which provides mapping as well as biological and behavioural information related to HIV infection, infection rate among IDUs has steadily increased from 10.8 per cent in 2005 to 37.8 per cent in 2011 despite various prevention efforts. Not only has the overall prevalence increased, but the number of sites with relatively advanced epidemics has also expanded, the report mentioned.
With an overall HIV prevalence of 5.2 per cent, the HIV epidemic appears to be more established in HSWs than among MSWs and FSWs, according to the report.
As per the latest SACP account of HIV/Aids registered patients, 200 males and 13 females were registered for HIV infection between April and June 2012. The breakdown of mode of HIV transmission was: injecting drug use 115, heterosexual 81, blood or blood product 15, mother-to-child one and unknown (prisoner) one.
A behaviour change communication (BCC) coordinator at the SACP, Dr M. Munawwar Khan, said that the number of people living with HIV/Aids had been increasing in the country due to lack of awareness about its spread. It could be prevented by increasing awareness regarding transmission of the virus and ways for protection, he added.
He said people should be told that HIV could be transmitted only through blood contact of an HIV-infected person. It could be due to direct blood transfusion, sexual interaction, through used needles, syringes, razors, contaminated surgical instruments and also from infected mother to new born, he explained.
Of the 4,712 HIV patients in Sindh, 3,569 (75.74pc) belonged to Karachi, followed by Larkana where 283 live with HIV, Hyderabad 51, Sukkur 25, Mirpurkhas 11, Dadu 13, Sanghar 44, Qambar 10 and others.
Of the 215 Aids patients in the province, 57 lived in Karachi.