World HIV/AIDS Day

world%20aids%20day.gif World AIDS Day – the international day of action on HIV and AIDS which takes place every year on 1 December. Islamabad’s population is especially unaware of the gravity of the issue. Considered one of the more liberal social setups in Pakistan, public awareness to practise safety should be emphasized. Generally the attitude of people, even the educated ones, is very tepid and is warded off with blushes and giggles. However there is a need for sentience especially among the youth.

According to UNAIDS, Pakistan is on the brink of a widespread HIV/AIDS epidemic.

A third of Pakistani truck drivers recently surveyed had never heard of condoms and 19 out of 20 who bought sex from women did not use condoms, according to UNAIDS. Surveys among Commercial Sex Workers also reveal limited understanding of safe sexual practices.

Studies also indicate that 94% of Injecting Drug Users use dirty syringes. Use of unsterilised needles in medical care is also widespread.

“Pakistan’s HIV infection rate is comparable to South Africa fifteen years ago. Now is the time to deny the virus a firm foothold”. Sigurd Hanson, World Vision Pakistan National Director

Pakistan’s ‘bubble’ burst when an outbreak was reported in its southern Sindh province. All of a sudden, the virus no longer belonged to just migrant workers.

Stigma, denial, poor surveillance and voluntary testing, as well as a lack of knowledge among the population, practitioners and policy-makers is contributing to under-reporting and burgeoning infection rates.

The World Bank reports heterosexual transmission accounts for about 63% of reported cases, exposure to infected blood or blood products for about 7%, male to male sex for about 5%, mother to child transmission for about 3% and injecting drug use for about 1%. The remaining 21% is unknown.

“To date, the majority of infected cases are among males, with a female ratio of seven to one, a ratio that is expected in the early stages of an HIV epidemic”. World Bank .

High prevalence of Thalassaemia, a hereditary blood disease, as well as Hepatitis B & C is increasing due to unscreened blood transfusions. Prevention and safe treatment of these diseases is therefore inextricably linked with the prevention of HIV/AIDS. Moreover, as the HIV/AIDs virus can have an incubation period of 12-15 years, people affected with AIDS might not even know that they are infected, and are at risk to infect others. This is especially devastating if the virus is passed onto offsprings.

For more information check out:
http://www.nacp.com.pk
National AIDS Control Programme, National Institute of Health, Ministry of Health,
Chak Shahzad, Islamabad – Pakistan. (44000)

1 Comment so far

  1. Kirk (unregistered) on December 15th, 2006 @ 11:48 pm

    Check out the story about India’s HIV statistics on http://notaids.com. As ususal, the UNAIDS estimates are way overblown.



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