ISLAMABAD, July 25: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a $2.7 million programme to support the Pakistan government in its fight against HIV/Aids.

The USAID programme will educate 27,000 individuals at high risk of HIV/Aids through community outreach activities, provide treatment to 2,000 cases of sexually transmitted infections and extend care and support to 600 individuals living with HIV/Aids and their families. All activities directly support the health ministry’s National HIV/Aids Control Programme.

At the launching ceremony of the project, the USAID also awarded four grants to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to implement HIV/Aids education and treatment programmes in the Punjab and Sindh.

The recipients are the Organisation for Social Development (OSD), Mehran Welfare Trust, New Lights Aids Control Society, and ASEER Foundation.

Speaking at the event, USAID Pakistan Director Jonathan Addleton praised the work of local NGOs in advocating better care and treatment for people living with HIV/Aids.

He noted that this was an issue which cut across religion, ethnicity and social class. Programmes focused on HIV/Aids are not just dealing with a “disease” or a “public health problem,” rather they are about helping people in ways that are truly merciful and compassionate, he said.

Dr Naseer Nizamani from Family Health International spoke to the assembled NGO representatives and the HIV/AIDS community mobilisers on behalf of the director of National Aids Programme. Dr Nizamani described the goals of the national programme and thanked USAID for its continuing support.