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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has detected over 9,000 new HIV/ AIDS patients so far this year, senior officials of the Ministry of National Health Services and Regulations said.

According to the Ministry of National Health Services, countywide this year 9,284 new HIV-positive patients have been detected.

According to the Ministry of Health, about 900 to 1,000 new cases of HIV are emerging in Pakistan every month, while earlier in 2022 more than 10,000 cases of HIV were reported.

According to the Ministry of Health, most of the HIV cases are coming from Punjab and Sindh; Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are also reporting HIV cases.

Health Ministry officials say that around 40 to 50 new cases are being reported every month from Islamabad and surrounding areas, including Kashmir. As a result of accidental testing, there is a need to increase HIV testing in Pakistan.

“Every year, the day reminds us that ending the HIV epidemic requires collective efforts at the community level, innovative thinking, and reaching the most marginalised populations and improving access to health services,” the officials said.

Highlighting the seriousness of the situation in Pakistan, officials revealed that Larkana was a high-risk area for HIV/AIDS in Sindh in 2022, adding that only from January to November more than 970 cases were reported.

The officials said that during the last 10 months of 2022, a total of 9,773 people have tested positive for HIV in Pakistan, adding that if these cases are not controlled, the number of HIV cases could rise to millions very soon, like hepatitis C, which is spread in the same way.

Over 70 per cent male, 33 per cent of females and only three percent kids in the overall population of the country have been affected with the disease of HIV in the last few years, officials mentioned. They said the government is fully vigilant and active in taking necessary measures to keep the people safe from HIV and the situation in Pakistan is still not alarming.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Health Services while commemorating the “World AIDS Day 2023”has reiterated the commitment of vigorously dealing with the AIDS in the country and hope for a HIV-free Pakistan.

While marking the World Aids 2023 here on Friday the Health Ministry in collaboration with the Common Management Unit (CMU) for AIDS, TB, and Malaria, the United Nations (UN), the Association of People Living with HIV (APLHIV) and other community partners has expressed commitment to the global theme, "Let Communities Lead."

Dr Nadeem Jan, Caretaker Federal Minister for Ministry of National Health Services said that the Government of Pakistan is firmly committed to eradicating the AIDS epidemic by 2030, aligning with the global 95-95-95 HIV milestones. It is crucial to address healthcare and societal imbalances to ensure that no one is marginalised or left behind.

On the occasion of World AIDS Day, Iftikhar Ali Shallwani, federal secretary Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination said, “The world can end AIDS, with communities leading the way. Communities living with, at risk of, or affected by HIV have a greater role to play and need to join the frontline forces to halt the upward trend of the HIV epidemic. We all need to join hands and connect for providing person-centred public health services, build trust, innovate, monitor implementation of policies and services, and hold providers accountable.”

Speaking at the event, Dr Razia Kaniz Fatima, national coordinator for Coordination Management Unit, AIDS, TB and Malaria, emphasized the need to empower and trust communities to take the lead in designing, implementing, and evaluating programs that address the unique needs of their members.

Julien Harneis, resident coordinator of United Nations in Pakistan said despite investment and efforts of the government and partners, HIV infections are still rising in Pakistan. To stop the disease, we must get better at listening to the marginalised people and give them support, he added.

Yuki Takemoto, country director UNAIDS Pakistan said World AIDS Day 2023 highlights the full potential of community leadership to help end AIDS as a public health threat in Pakistan. At the end, a panel discussion between UN partners, government and donors also took place at the event.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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