DERA GHAZI KHAN: The number of registered patients suffering from HIV/AIDS has registered an alarming increase in the district, sources told Dawn.

In 2006, a centre for HIV/AIDS patients was established at the local district headquarters hospital which had been converted into a teaching hospital for the Ghazi Khan Medical College (GKMC).

The hospital’s Medical Superintendent Dr Shahid told Dawn that as may as 3,194 patients were being treated at the newly-established nine-bed HIV/AIDS ward of the facility. He said it was the only ward dedicated to such patients in south Punjab, adding that its capacity would be increased up to 25 beds.

He said the ward had been receiving 30-40 patients every month.

He said there was a dire need of creating awareness about the ailment so that such patients could be registered and provided medication. He added that in this connection, owners of barber shops should also be sensitised so that spread of the disease through shared razors could be checked.

Around 1,000 didn’t get medication after testing positive

He regretted that more than 1,000 HIV/AIDS patients did not return to the centre for treatment after being diagnosed with the disease. He said such patients were a threat to others as they could spread the disease (through blood transfusion and sexual relations). He said the government should launch some programme to trace them and bring them back.

Dr Shahid apprehended that there could be more than 10,000 non-registered patients of HIV/AIDS in the district.

He said at the teaching hospital ward some 600 women, 2,572 men, 26 children and six transgender persons suffering from HIV/AIDS were getting regular treatment.

Sources said that the HIV/AIDS ward had not only insufficient staff, but there was also no separate operation theatre for conducting surgeries of such patients. They said there was also no separate labour room for pregnant HIV/AIDS patients.

The medical superintendent, however, claimed that soon the missing facilities would be provided for the patients.

The MS said 90 out of 91 pregnant women suffering from HIV/AIDS gave safe births, adding that the one child born with the disease was being treated along with his mother at the ward.

Most of the patients, he said, were residents of Kot Mubarik, Pir Shah Sadar Din, Kala, Sakhi Sarwar, Yaru Khosa, Taunsa areas and DG Khan city areas.

Meanwhile, the staff working at AIDS ward made an appeal to the government for regularisation of their jobs as they had been working on contract since its inception.

Nazar, a patient at the AIDS ward, said he was being treated at there for the last three years and was feeling better now.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2019