Thursday May 30, 2024

Lawmakers to promote self-testing for ascertaining HIV status

By M. Waqar Bhatti
August 24, 2022

ISLAMABAD: In order to ascertain HIV status, lawmakers vowed to raise voice for introducing the self-testing practice in the country. Besides, they also urged health authorities and agencies besides religious scholars, teachers and other influential segments to create awareness about the crippling disease.

Around 20 MNAs as well as MPAs from Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan attended a three-day awareness workshop on prevalence of HIV on Tuesday. “HIV is spreading like wildfire in Pakistan and we are sitting on a time bomb, which can explode at any time.

It is the fastest growing epidemic in Asia Pacific and Pakistan is the second country after Philippines with highest number of new HIV cases”, PTI MNA Dr Nausheen Hamid told the participants of the workshop.

She maintained HIV is spreading due to high risk behavior, contaminated blood transfusions, irrational use of injections and syringes and poor infection control in the country. “The recent outbreak of HIV among children in Ratodero is a clear example where hundreds of children were infected with HIV by the quacks using infected syringes and needles to many children”, she said and called for tackling the issue of stigma attached to the HIV screening and treatment in the country.

Other provincial lawmakers from Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh assemblies inquired questions regarding HIV’s modes of transmission, its prevention and treatment and vowed to raise the issue from the floors of their respective assemblies to bring the prevention of HIV on health agendas of their provinces.

They said self-testing could encourage thousands of people with high-risk behaviors to screen themselves confidentially and get treatment if they find themselves infected with the virus. Experts from the UNAIDS and UNDP briefed the parliamentarians on HIV and AIDS, its prevalence in Pakistan, challenges in HIV prevention, stigma and discrimination attached to the disease and problems faced by HIV positive people in getting treatment and other support in the country.