PESHAWAR: The officials of the AIDS Control Programme, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter, on Sunday feared that the number of AIDS and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients might increase in the province and the adjacent tribal areas if the affected persons did not undergo medical tests to contain the spread of the fatal virus.
Talking to The News, Dr Rajwal Khan, provincial head of the AIDS Control Programme said that majority of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) affected persons registered with their department were those who had returned from abroad.
“Out of 997 persons with HIV positive, some 450 patients have returned from foreign countries, majority of them from the Gulf states,” he said. He said the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia had sent back 257 and 84 AIDS patients, respectively.
According to information obtained from AIDS Control Programme, some 592 HIV positive patients belonging to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 243 to Fata, 88 to Afghanistan and eight to Punjab had been registered since December 2005.
Those testing HIV positive include 660 men, 230 women and 44 children below 14 years of age. About 360 patients have been referred by private physicians and 139 by non-governmental organisations working against AIDS. Another 193 approached the special centre at Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) for tests.
Dr Hilal at the Hayatabad Medical Complex said that almost all the district hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had referred AIDS patients to the centre, adding majority of them belonged to southern districts and the adjacent tribal areas. He said the Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar had referred 86 HIV patients, Khyber Teaching Hospital 51and HMC 44.
Dr Idrees at the HMC Family Care Centre said that due to the stigma related to AIDS the majority of the affected persons were reluctant to undergo tests. He feared it might lead to increase in the number of patients in the tribal areas.
He said AIDS virus could transfer to a healthy person from a patient through blood transfusion and used syringes.