World AIDS Day celebrated

F.P. Report

Islamabad: Every year since 1988, World AIDS Day is celebrated globally to raise HIV awareness and express solidarity with those who have succumbed to HIV and its associated morbidities. In Pakistan an estimated 133,529 (2017) people are living with HIVas compared to less than 110,000 in 2016 and although the epidemic is concentrated in specific groups known as Key Populations but isolated outbreaks in different parts of the country such as in JallalpurJata (Gujrat), Larkana and Chiniot as well as evidence from the recent HIV Surveillance round (IBBS-2016) suggest a spill-over into the general population through bridging populations.

The recently concluded surveillance round (IBBS-2016) reported an increase in HIV prevalence in all key populations: People who inject drugs (PWID) from 37.8% to 38.4%, male sex workers (MSW) from 3.1% to 5.2%, female sex workers (FSW) from 0.8% to 2.2% and in transgenders sex workers (TG-SW) from 7.2% to 7.5%. The National AIDS Control Programme is spearheading the HIV response in the country with 26 HIV treatment centres and 21 Community Home based Care Sites. These centres provide free of cost HIV treatment, testing, counselling as well as social support to people living with HIV.  In 2016, 8,888 people living with HIV were provided free of cost of ARVs and the number has increased to around 11,080in September, 2017. With a modified community based prevention and testing approach, and adaption of WHO guidelines of “Treatment for All” NACP expects the number to rise. HIV treatment in coming years will be used a treatment and prevention tool that will contribute to a reduction in new infections, HIV associated morbidities and AIDS related deaths.