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December 31, 2018

PIMS AIDS Centre receives 211 new patients in 2018


December 31, 2018

Islamabad : The Centre for Treatment of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences has registered as many as 211 new patients with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) positive and AIDS in 2018 that took the total number of HIV and AIDS patients registered with the Centre to 3,068.

Data collected by ‘The News’ on Sunday reveals that the PIMS centre for treatment and prevention of AIDS that was established in 2005 by National Aids Control Programme received as many as 154 new male patients and 44 female patients suffering from HIV and AIDS in 2018 while 12 children with the infection were also registered at PIMS in one year.

Of the 12 children, eight are male while four female. It is alarming that two of these children who are thalassemia patients got AIDS due to blood transfusion while two child patients contracted disease from their mothers. The PIMS AIDS centre received one new transgender patient with AIDS in 2018.

Since the establishment of AID centre at PIMS, a total of 2,507 male patients and 468 female patients got themselves registered for treatment while as many as 35 male children and 26 female children reached centre for treatment. Of male patients, a total of 1,026 were found to be drug addicts.

The PIMS AIDS centre registered 211 new patients with HIV positive and AIDS in 2015 though it is observed that social stigma associated with the disease is still the biggest hurdle for a number of patients to have treatment of HIV and AIDS at a public sector healthcare facility and it is alarming, said Deputy Director at PIMS Dr. Waseem Ahmed Khawaja while talking to ‘The News’ on Sunday.

He said the catchment area of the PIMS centre includes almost all major cities of the country though greater number of patients has been reported from Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Attock, Gujrat, Lahore, Mansehra, Mandi Bahauddin, Peshawar, Kohat, Mardan, Boner, Quetta, Zoab, Larkana, Nawabshah and areas from Gilgit Baltaistan.

It is important that the most advanced stage of HIV infection is AIDS and it can take 10-15 years for an HIV-infected person to develop AIDS, the end-stage of HIV infection. After developing AIDS, a person usually dies in six months. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for AIDS, however, antiretroviral drugs (ART) can slow down the progress and people with HIV may enjoy healthy and productive lives for years with ART.

At present, well over 1700 patients are on antiretroviral drugs treatment at the PIMS centre of which over 50 per cent or so are intravenous drug users (IDUs), said Professor Dr Rizwan Qazi who was heading the centre for treatment of AIDS at PIMS since February this year.

Talking to ‘The News’ on Sunday, he said there have been various estimates about total number of HIV and AIDS patients in Pakistan revealing that the country has nearly 150000 patients with HIV positive though around 27000 patients are those who are registered for treatment.

To control spread of HIV and AIDS in the country, he said the most important thing is to give due attention to establishment of rehabilitation facilities for IDUs.

Many non-government organisations and private clinics are running rehabilitation centres for the IDUs though the facilities are still inadequate and also it is commonly observed that majority of drug users get to drug addiction even after getting rehabilitation treatment through NGOs and private set-ups, he said.

All HIV and AIDS patients are being given treatment in complete confidentiality at PIMS and the centre is working in medical OPD of PIMS without any stigma so the patients should not be reluctant to come for treatment, said Dr. Khawaja.

He said patients with HIV positive and AIDS can come to the PIMS AIDS Centre for treatment from 8:00 a.m to 2:00 p.m daily except on Sundays. He added the consultation is free for all patients along with treatment, admission and tests.

Dr. Khawaja reiterated that people who have had multiple blood transfusions, multiple dialysis, had unprotected sex or are intravenous drug users or living with multiple sex partners or homosexuals should get their tests done at the PIMS.

He added that initial screening for AIDS is also free and the result is given in 30 minutes time and the data is kept confidential to save people coming to the centre from stigma.

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