Tuesday Aug 24, 2021
Karachi's district Central has the highest number of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) patients across the province, where 2,725 people are found to have become infected with the viral infectious disease, said the officials of communicable diseases control (CDC) in Sindh, The News reported Monday.
Addressing a training workshop for journalists in Karachi, CDC (HIV/AIDS) Sindh Additional Director Dr Irshad Kazmi said, “Karachi’s Central district has the highest number of people living with HIV in the province, while Larkana is on the second spot with 2,430 HIV positive people, of whom over 1,200 are children. Overall, Karachi has over 6,768 people living with HIV, which is the highest number of HIV infected people in the province.”
The two-day interactive training, ‘Role of the Media in Strengthening HIV Response’, is being organised by the UNAIDS in collaboration with the CDC Directorate of the Sindh Health Department, UNFPA and the health committee of the Karachi Press Club (KPC) where journalists from local, regional and international media are being trained on sensitive reporting on the issues of HIV and AIDS, population, gender-based violence and sexually transmitted diseases.
The rampant use of therapeutic injections in Pakistan is one of the leading causes of increasing HIV transmission, Dr Kazmi said, adding that over 800 million therapeutic injections are given annually in Pakistan, which means that each person gets 4.5 injections per year, which is the highest in the world.
“The other major contributing factor behind increasing HIV transmission in the country is the presence of thousands of quacks, who are involved in unsafe injection practices and poor infection prevention control,” he said, adding that even the international disease control and donor agencies had blamed these two factors as the major causes of HIV outbreak among children in the Ratodero area of Larkana.
According to the expert, it is estimated that around 70,000 to 78,000 people are infected with HIV in Sindh, of whom 15,952 are registered with the CDC Directorate, and of them 13,864 -- 9,166 men, 2,461 women, 1,126 male children, 730 female children and 421 transgender persons -- are on treatment and receiving antiretroviral drugs.
Dr Kazmi said, “So far, 1,939 people infected with HIV, who were registered with the health department, have lost their lives in the province, including 1,492 men, 217 women, 131 male children, 72 female children and 27 transgender persons.”
The health official maintained that due to unsafe injection practices and poor infection prevention and control issues, there could be a large number of people infected with HIV without knowing their status.
“HIV infection is treatable and hundreds of people infected with HIV are living normal lives by taking regular medicines. Medicines for the HIV treatment are being provided free of charge to the patients registered with us,” he added.
UNAIDS experts Fahmida Khan and Dr Rajwal Khan shared the statistics of Pakistan, and using the multimedia presentations and data they urged the journalists to play their role in helping people living with HIV.