HIV/AIDS needs special attention: Saira Tarar

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar on Tuesday said HIV/AIDS need special attention due to the stigma attached to them.

Addressing a seminar organized here at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) on World AIDS Day, she said it was high time to raise awareness regarding HIV/AIDS.

The World AIDS Day is celebrated annually on December 1 to raise awareness on the HIV and AIDS threats faced globally, in each region and in each country; highlight achievements over the year and identify further steps that need to be taken to eliminate this disease.

Saira Afzal Tarar said the Government is providing free of charge treatment to 7000 HIV patients at 21 treatment centres across the country.

National AIDS Control Programme had delivered remarkably over the past two years, she said adding, the Global Fund had agreed to extend support to National AIDS Control Programme till 2017.

There were 11 HIV treatment centres in 2013 but now 21 centres were running including, seven community based centres.

Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 requires meeting the global targets, she said.

Considerable financial resources have been mobilized through domestic allocation for HIV sector, she said adding, Pakistan is moving towards sustainable national financing and will continue investing in this area.

“Internationally our efforts have been recognized, while our grading went up from B1 to A2, but I still ask our valuable partners to come forward and support us to reduce the gap and also the stigma and discrimination attached to HIV and AIDS”, she stated.

She urged the religious leaders and opinion makers to come forward and tell the people that HIV is a disease. “We must not discriminate but support the people living with HIV.”

“We are working on HIV Bill and very soon it will be presented to the National Assembly to address the basic human rights issues faced by the community,” Saira Tarar said.

Dr Mamadou L Sakho, UNAIDS Country Director, Pakistan and Afghanistan said on this World AIDS Day, the UN agencies need to implement the UNAIDS Fast-Track strategy that aim to end the HIV epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.

The United Nations General Assembly special Assembly High Level meeting on HIV/AIDS tentatively planned for June 8-10, 2016 would further galvanize the world to fast track response on the road to ending AIDS by 2030, he said.

The seminar was attended by officials of Ministry of National Health Services, staff members of PIMS and representatives of civil society.

Source: APP