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December 3, 2018

‘Sindh lags behind others in treating HIV/AIDS patients’


December 3, 2018

A young patient with HIV/AIDS died a miserable death at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) a couple of days back due to multiple viral and bacterial infections as most of the treatment centres for HIV/AIDS patients are not functional at any hospital across Sindh, while there is no specialised health facility or experts to treat patients.

Pakistan has around 150,000 people living with HIV/AIDS with at least 60,000 people infected with the deadly, incurable disease living in Sindh alone. However, unfortunately, Sindh is far behind other provinces in diagnosis, management and treatment of HIV/AIDS patients, experts said on Saturday.

Speaking on World AIDS Day, observed globally on December 1, health experts deplored that although the incurable viral disease was brought under control in many countries due to hectic measures, surveillance and attention, it was spreading like fire in rural and semi-rural areas of Sindh, especially in Larkana, Khairpur, Sukkur districts and adjoining areas.

Unfortunately, five of the six HIV/AIDS treatment centres established in different cities of Sindh, including Karachi, are not functional, forcing patients to live a miserable life as most of the public and private hospitals do not offer antiretroviral therapy for the management of HIV/AIDS.

“On the request of the Sindh AIDS Control Programme, we had provided space to them for the establishment of an AIDS Treatment Centre at JPMC, but it has been lying closed since the place was provided to them,” an official of the JPMC said, adding that officials of the AIDS Control Programme were asking them to depute JPMC staff at the centre, which was not possible as they were already under-staffed.

Same was the situation of AIDS treatment centres at other hospitals in the province, for the centre at Civil Hospital Karachi where according to CHK officials, patients with HIV/AIDS were not only being registered but also being provided medicines.

But Sindh Additional Chief Secretary Dr Usman Chachar was full of praise for the Sindh AIDS Control Programme at a ceremony here at a local hotel to observe the World AIDS Day, saying it was doing a good job for the identification, treatment and management of HIV/AIDS and providing quality treatment facilities to infected people.

Claiming that the Sindh government was providing all possible treatment facilities to patients, he said instead of marginalisation, these people deserved love and empathy as they could live a normal life with the help of medicines, care and love.

SACP Programme Manager SACP Dr Younus Chachar claimed that the six treatment centres for HIV/AIDS patients were fully functional in Karachi and added that two more such centres would be established in Karachi and interior Sindh.

“Two HIV/AIDS treatment centres are functioning at Indus Hospital and Aga Khan Hospital while two more centres would be established at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and District Hospital, Nawabshah,” he added.

Meanwhile, a large number of people including doctors, paramedics, nurses, children and patients with HIV/AIDS took out a rally from the Sindh Secretariat to Karachi Press Club to express solidarity with patients living with the viral disease and to draw the attention of people towards preventive measures.

Led by SACP Programme Manager Dr Younus Chachar, Dr. Sikandar Iqbal and others, the participants walked carrying banners and placards inscribed with awareness messages and slogans and they also raised slogans for the eradication of HIV/AIDS from the country.

Speaking at an awareness ceremony at the end of walk at the Karachi Press Club, experts said 58,000 to 60,000 people could be infected with HIV/AIDS in Sindh but added that as many as 15,147 people had been confirmed living with the viral infection in Sindh, of which 6,835 patients were being provided medicines and treatment by the Sindh AIDS Control Programme.

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