Heath News: World AIDS Day will be observed in Pakistan like other parts of the globe on Tuesday to raise awareness about the disease and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic.
Various activities have been planned by public and private health organizations to mark the day including talk shows, group discussions, awareness walk, seminars etc..
The Day is one of the most visible opportunities for public and private partners to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in high prevalence countries and around the world.
According to 2008 figures released by WHO, there are 33.4 million people living with HIV. An estimated 2.7 million were newly infected with the virus and two million died of AIDS the same year.
Dr. Hasan Abbas Zaheer, National Programme Manager, National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) while talking to APP said that according to national estimates around 97,400 HIV/AIDS patients are living in Pakistan.
He said the figure may be more than this as many affected people are unaware of having such infection. He said NACP has launched awareness drive on occasion of AIDS day to educate the country people about the disease.
Pakistan is a signatory to the MDGs and Goal 6 of which states that Pakistan will “Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS” by the year 2015.
In order to seek such a halt and reversal, the Ministry of Health had established National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) in 1986-87, Dr. Hasan said.
He said the primary objective of this programme was to contain the epidemic among the most at risk group where it had established and prevent it from establishing among the bridge groups and the general population.
He said in its early stages, the programme focused on laboratory diagnosis of suspected HIV cases, but progressively it began to shift its focus towards HIV prevention and control interventions.
He said presently NACP and its provincial counterparts are implementing the interventions throughout the country with components included expansion of interventions for vulnerable populations, improved HIV prevention by the general public, prevention of transmission through transfusion of blood and blood products and capacity building and programme management.