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December 28, 2019

311 patients reach PIMS in 2019


December 28, 2019

Islamabad :As many as 311 new patients with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) positive and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) got registered with the Centre for Treatment of AIDS at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences for treatment in 2019 so far including 231 male patients, 72 females and eight transgender people.

Registration of 311 new patients in 2019 took the total number of HIV and AIDS patients so far registered with the AIDS Centre at PIMS to 3371 of which 2142 have been receiving treatment at PIMS.

Data collected by ‘The News’ on Friday reveals that the PIMS centre for treatment and prevention of AIDS that was established in 2005 by National Aids Control Programme has been providing treatment to as many as 1662 male patients, 406 female patients and 74 children along with 17 transgender patients suffering from HIV/AIDS.

It is important that a total of 81 child patients suffering from HIV are registered with the AIDS centre though 74 are on treatment. It is, however, alarming that at least two of the child patients are thalassemia patients who got AIDS due to blood transfusion while few other child cases are of children who contracted disease from their mothers.

The PIMS AIDS centre has so registered a total of 3371 patients but not all the patients require regular treatment, said Deputy Director at PIMS Dr. Waseem Ahmed Khawaja while talking to ‘The News’.

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, Zhob and areas from AJK and Gilgit Baltaistan.

The centre has so far registered 2007 HIV/AIDS patients from the Punjab province, 399 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwah, 29 from Sindh, 276 from AJK, 16 from FATA, 17 from Gilgit and five from Afghanistan along with 27 foreigners, he said.

It is important that the most advanced stage of HIV infection is AIDS and it can take 10 to 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, the Centre for Treatment of AIDS at PIMS is providing antiretroviral drugs treatment to over 2100 patients, said Dr. Khawaja. He added that it has been observed that the 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 like PIMS.

It is important that there has not been any national registry to have proper record of patients with HIV and AIDS in Pakistan though according to various estimates about total number of HIV and AIDS patients in Pakistan, it is believed that the country has well over 150000 patients with HIV positive.

Of the total 3371 patients so far registered with PIMS AIDS centre, as many as 1077 are drug addicts who are suffering from AIDS and 492 intravenous drug users are taking treatment on regular basis, said Dr. Khawaja.

He said the PIMS provides treatment to all HIV and AIDS patients in complete confidentiality and the centre is working in medical OPD of PIMS without any stigma so the patients should not be reluctant to come for treatment.

He said patients with HIV positive and AIDS can come to the PIMS AIDS Centre for treatment from 8:00am to 2:00pm daily on working days while treatment to emergency patients is given round the clock in emergency department. Consultation, treatment, admission and tests are free for all patients with HIV and AIDS, he said.

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 themselves screened for AIDS, he said. 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.