Every year “World AIDS Day” is being celebrated across the globe on December 1st in order to raise awareness about this fatal disease and morning those who have died of the disease. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.
Theme of this year World AIDS day is “Communities make the difference”. Communities contribute to the AIDS response in many different ways. Their leadership and advocacy ensure that the response remains relevant and grounded, keeping at the center and leaving no one behind. Communities including peer educators, network of people living with HIV, women and young people. Counsellors, religious leaders, community health workers, door to door service providers, civil society organizations and gross root activities.
According to report of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government released on 1st December 2019, Pakistan is in a ‘ concentrated phase’ of the epidemic, which means HIV is concentrated among certain population groups which are people who inject drugs, trans genders, male and female sex workers. As per the report, overall national prevalence among inject drug users is 38.4 %, trans genders 7.6 %, male and female sex worker have 7.4% while in KP the HIV prevalence in inject drug users is 7.8%, trans genders have 3.3%, sex workers have 3.8 percent. The prevalence in general population is still below 0.1۔
However, recent report of United Nations revealed that Pakistan ranked among those eleven countries where the ratio of HIV/AIDs is extremely high. In Asia Pakistan ranked first in terms of greater numbers of HIV patients. As per report only 10% of the HIV patients have the access to treatment facilities in Pakistan.
On the other hand, Doctors in KP say that HIV/AIDS is not being an incurable disease but in 21st century it is curable disease like others. “If we could diagnose the disease at earlier stage, we may control it effectively through proper treatment. Though HIV cannot be eradicated, but we can control it by giving proper treatment to the patients. For example a patient of diabetes can lead a healthy life, in case he takes care of food and avoid those things, which are harmful for him. Prevention is better than cure” said Doctor Salim, Project Director AIDS Control Program KP.
He said that provincial government have been established eight “Family Care Centers” where free treatment and counselling is being offered to HIV patients. Two are established in Peshawar, one in Hayatabad Medical complex and other in Lady Reading Hospital. Rest of the six centers have been established on divisional level each one located in Kohat, Bannu, Dera Isamil Khan, Mardan, Batkhela and Abbottabad.
Since 2005, in KP, 5432 HIV patients were registered in these Family Care Centers. “ We provide all the facilities and medicine free of cost including Anti-retroviral therapy (ARY medicine), advance HIV diagnostic and counselling services to all HIV positive people and families.
There is difference between HIV and AIDS, “HIV is actually a virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids). The virus weakens a person’s ability to fight infections and cancer. People with HIV are said to have AIDS when they develop certain infections or cancer. Only the existence of HIV in the body doesn’t mean that you are suffering from Aids, since it can take several years to develop Aids. HIV is dangerous in a sense it can transmit to other humans and can affect him. Said Dr. Abdurrahim, former In charge of HMC Peshawar center.
The doctor further said that there are many causes of HIV/Aids however; it doesn’t transfer with interaction with the patients like shaking hands with them and eating with them. The basic reasons for Aids include precarious sexual contacts with the infected person, sharing a needle to take drugs, and unsafe blood transfusion, which is also a reason for spreading the disease, but nowadays blood, is tested in laboratories before donating it to a needy and deserved person.
He further said that people considered Aids as a sin, which is wrong, because these patients need special attention and sympathy on part of the society.
“HIV is a common disease like other, if an infected person visits the hospital in time and starts treatment, so other people will not affect from his disease particularly his progeny. Hayatabad Medical Complex Peshawar offer free treatment, investigation and counseling of patients, therefore I would request to the people that they must visit the hospital for checkup, in case they have unprotected sex”.
Health experts further added that Aids can be controlled in case Islamic teachings are followed in true sense of words.