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HIV / AIDS in Pakistan – Newspaper



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The new UNAIDS report has some disturbing views on Pakistan, which is on the list of 11 countries with the highest prevalence of HIV / AIDS. While in other countries HIV / AIDS cases are declining, there is a worrying upswing in Pakistan. According to the report, the number of HIV / AIDS patients in the country has increased to over 160,000 in 2018, of which about 110,000 are men; 48,000 women; and 5,500 children under the age of 15. Approximately 6,400 died from the disease. A decade ago, in 2008, the number of patients living with HIV / AIDS in the country was 4,300, showing a significant increase. The number of patients will undoubtedly rise even higher in 2019, in light of the sudden outbreak of Larkana disease in the last few months, especially among children, some under the age of two.

For years, health researchers have warned of the potential threat of an HIV / AIDS epidemic in the country, but like an ostrich attitude and the inability to talk about things as they are, have compounded the problem over the years. Because HIV / AIDS is still linked to what has been condemned as socially deviant sexual activity, stigma is bypassing the topic in our broadly conservative society. HIV / AIDS is considered to be more widespread in marginalized communities without access to treatment, such as the transgender population, drug addicts and sex workers, but there is reason to believe that it is increasing in the general population. In Larkana, for example, the spread of the disease was monitored by a single doctor – according to some residents, the only one in the area, although he denied intentional involvement – reusing infected syringes on patients.

The Larkana case brings back memories of a small village in Sargoj in January 2018, when a blood test found 669 people infected with the virus. This was largely blamed on a thriving charlatan rocket, where unsterilized equipment and infected syringes were used on an unsuspecting population, most of them women and children. In later interviews with patients with HIV / AIDS in Sargoda, few were aware of the spread of the disease and its health implications. More recently, one news that failed to attract as much attention as Larkana said was that there were about 2,800 patients enrolled in the Punjab AIDS Free Vaccination Control Program, originally from five provinces in the province. Most were unaware that they had the disease until they were screened while donating blood, traveling abroad, or undergoing surgery. In a culture of shame and silence, and in the absence of a nationwide HIV / AIDS awareness program, few know the facts of their illness or how to seek help until it's late.

Posted at dawn, July 30, 2019

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