ISLAMABAD: A bill on prevention and treatment of HIV will be presented in the next session of the parliament to have effective legislation for removing barriers and challenges in protecting people from this disease.
Addressing the roundtable dialogue with media persons about HIV testing, prevention and treatment here Tuesday, National Programme Manager, National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) Dr Baseer Khan Achkzai said nearly 150,000 people were living with HIV positive in Pakistan, out of which 25,000 people were registered with NACP while a large number of patients were receiving treatment from NACP centres.
He said that presently 33 treatment centres were working efficiently across the country besides prevention the parent to child transmission centres for pregnant women. He added there was an effective awareness programme on the issue.
He said that the government was striving to advocate for more concerted action to prevent HIV and provide those who were living with HIV the lifesaving treatment they need in a manner that respects both human rights and their dignity.
Dr Baseer said that HIV testing was essential for expanding treatment and ensuring that all people living with HIV could lead healthy and productive lives. He further said it was also crucial to achieving the targets and empowering people to make choice about HIV prevention so they could protect themselves and their loved ones.
He said that renewed commitment to sustain funding and scaled-up implementation of HIV prevention programme was mandatory to end the HIV epidemic as a public health threat. He added systematic and well-managed coordination was also critical to rapid progress.
He said that communities, policymakers, providers and partners must work together to achieve a reduction in new infections in the affected population. He said that new HIV infections cannot be stopped without adopting combination prevention approaches.
He said that this year, the NACP in collaboration with UNAIDS and partners has prioritised engaging youth, media, parliamentarians and other stakeholders in the lead up to World AIDS Day.
He said these activities aimed at destigmatizing HIV testing, advocating for confidential, non-discriminatory, community-based care models and raising awareness about disease transmission, prevention and treatment.
He said that the NACP was working to address structural and policy barriers to testing and quality care and ensuring that investments were made for the right people in the right place.
UNAIDS Country Director for Pakistan and Afghanistan Dr Maria Elena Borromeo said that the UNAIDS has been working to facilitate and provide a platform among partners by adopting good practices of other countries to achieve results.
She said that observing December 1st as World AIDS day is an opportunity to unite worldwide in the fight against HIV/AIDS and showing support to people living with HIV/AIDS. She appreciated the role of Pakistan for joining the global movement against HIV/AIDS.
Country Representative World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Nima Saeed Abid stressed the need for having effective awareness about prevention aspect of the disease to protect the people from carrying the HIV.
He said that WHO has been focusing on HIV prevention and on case study as the test to know the status of HIV is very cheap and easy. “It is better for everyone to know the status as a majority of people in Pakistan don’t know they have HIV as only 16 per cent know this,” he added.
He said that the WHO was working on pre-qualification of testing kits of HIV and assured that these kits were high quality. He appealed countrymen to go voluntarily for a test of HIV.
Later, the representatives of WHO, NACP and UNAIDS launched two publications on HIV/AIDS included ‘Miles to go’ and ‘Knowledge is power’.