PESHAWAR: While putting the number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country at around 97,400, health minister Shahram Khan Tarakai on Wednesday said his government would continue supporting such patients in their treatment and rehabilitation.
He told reporters at the Peshawar Press Club that his department was ensuring provision of free antiretroviral medicines and testing facilities to patients at two HIV centres in Peshawar and Kohat districts.
The minister said the department had got Rs500 million in the last provincial Annual Development Programme to launch a mega project for the control of HIV, hepatitis and thalassaemia.
He said the money was being used to develop infrastructure and human resources, logistics, procurement of equipment, and provision of laboratory facilities.
Minister promises continued support for such patients
Mr. Tarakai said the government had planned to establish healthcare centres and laboratories in every divisional headquarters in near future to provide HIV/Aids screening, advocacy and counseling to control the serious disease.
He said the country had around 16,000 HIV patients with 2,584 registered in Hayatabad Medical Complex Peshawar and Kohat Hospital and 485 in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas. The minister said around 1,450 HIV patients were under treatment. He said 235 HIV cases were foreigners, mostly Afghan refugees.
Mr. Tarakai said a recent survey put the number of unregistered HIV/Aids patients at around 0.1 million, including 16,000 from KP.
He said the health department was in contact with the prison department for the treatment of prisoners suffering from HIV and that the government had allocated Rs7 million for the purpose.
The minister urged society at large to fully cooperate with HIV/Aids patients in leading a normal life instead of stigmatising them. He said patients should inform doctors about the disease, which didn’t necessarily spread through unlawful sex and rather, it was caused mostly by transfusion of untested blood and contaminated injections.
Mr. Tarakai said HIV had affected 35 million people around the world.
He said according a survey conducted in 2011, Pakistan was in a concentrated phase of HIV epidemic.
“HIV is concentrated among certain population groups including injecting drug users 27.2 per cent, transgender persons 7.2 per cent, male sex workers 1.6 per cent and female sex workers 0.6 per cent. HIV prevalence among general population is still below 0.1 per cent,” he said.
The minister said according the latest HIV estimates, there were around 97,400 HIV/AIDS cases in the country. He said the people registered with the National AIDS Control Programme for HIV treatment across the country totaled around 14,500 necessitating measures to address the disease.
Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2016