CHINIOT: The HIV/AIDS cases in Chiniot district have witnessed a surge in recent years as the number of patients suffering from the disease has increased fivefold since 2017.

The number of HIV positive cases in just one village Chak 127-JB, Bhattiwala was about 100 in 2017. However, now the disease has spread to other areas of district too and the reported number of cases is 664, forcing the district administration to spring into action and take measures to control the disease.

The district administration held a series of medical camps in the villages where the HIV/AIDS cases were being reported in a larger number.

On Thursday, Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Asif Raza inaugurated a blood screening camp organised by the district health authority in collaboration with Ulfat Life Care Trust at Chak 127-JB.

Extraordinary increase springs district govt into action

Talking to the media persons at the inaugural ceremony, the DC said the district administration had chalked out a comprehensive strategy to identify high risk groups, diagnose the patients, ensure their treatment and take measures to stop the spread of the disease. Besides the DHQ Hospital, the DC added, the HIV screening centres had also been started in five more hospitals, including the tehsil headquarters (THQ) hospitals of Bhowana and Lalian, the rural health centres of Chak 14, Ahmad Nagar and Bhabhrana. At these centres, screening is done for the persons donating blood, those coming for dental procedures and surgeries as well as suspected TB patients.

Meanwhile, 13 medical screening camps have been organised in the high risk groups, including the truck drivers; addicts, sex workers and transgender persons during the last two months.

Chiniot has high traffic of trucks due to sand and stone crush reserves near the Chenab river and thousands of truckers visit the district daily.

According to the DC, the health teams have also been deputed at the hotels along the Sargodha Road to screen the truck drivers coming to Chiniot for loading the mineral resources. A comprehensive AIDS control strategy has also been made to control the spread of the disease and action has also been taken against quacks while implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) had been ensured in public and private hospitals; laboratories and blood banks. The barber shops have been instructed to comply with the SOPs to curtail the spread of this disease.

The number of screening tests has been increased to 2,000 per month since the last two months and these tests are free at any government hospital or medical camp. In case any person tests positive for the HIV/AIDS, not only his particulars are kept secret but also complete treatment is given to him/her at the Punjab Aids Control Programme at the DHQ hospital.

It was learnt that around 100 cases of HIV/AIDS were reported for the first time in Chiniot in only one village, Chak 127-JB, Bhattiwala, in 2017 but the health department officials did not take any serious steps to curtail this disease in the last six years. As a result, the number of HIV positive patients has now reached 664.

The figures surged in the last two months when 18 more people tested positive in April 2023 while this number increased to 22 in May 2023, which led district administration to take steps to control this disease and stop its spread.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2023

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