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Number of AIDS patients in Pakistan on the rise, Senate told

 ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Senate was told on Tuesday that the number of AIDS patients are increasing in Pakistan as compared to other Asians Countries.

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Replying to a question in writing, the Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination told the House that the main reasons for an increase in AIDS patients in Pakistan include low prevention coverage in Key Populations 2–Low testing & treatment coverage, re-use of syringes/injections, availability of unscreened blood bags, and needle sharing among IDUs (intra Venous Drug Users).

It was further told that the government has taken following steps to control the increasing number of AIDS patients in Pakistan;

  • High risk (Key) populations like transgenders, female and male sex workers are also regularly tested for HIV through outreach workers through CBOs (Community Based Organizations) across Pakistan. The government has gradually increased coverage of prevention services among key population from current 16 to 26 CBOs (community Based Organizations) which will enhance prevention coverage.
  • Low Testing & Treatment coverage will be increased by gradual increase in HIV Clinics across Pakistan. Currently, we have 50 HIV Clinics in Pakistan. The government is in process of establishment of 03 new HIV Clinics (each in ICT, Gilgit-Baltistan & AJK) in 2022. Similarly all 08 DHQ Hospitals, merged districts are planning to establish HIV Clinics in all districts/agencies. The government of Sindh & Punjab are planning to establish HIV Clinics in all DHQ level. The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have established eight FCC (Family Care Centers) in all eight District Headquarters out of which six are having functional HIV Clinics. Balochistan have two HIC Clinics & three will be functional in next six months and two more will be established by end of December 2023. The government is providing free testing (HIV Rapid kits, CD4 tests & HIV PCR Viral Load tests) & lifelong medicines to all patients. Despite the COVID-19 epidemic, the government have successfully managed and ensured no stock out of medicine and testing facilities in Pakistan.
  • The government has planned to ban use of reusable injections/syringes in whole Country. The Pharma Industry is encouraged to manufacture Auto-destructible syringes only.
  • Need Syringe Program for IDUs is implemented in all provinces of Pakistan via 46COPC sites (in all provinces of Pakistan).
  • The government has newly established 16 Regional Blood Banks (at Divisional level) in all four provinces & Regions (Gilgit-Baltistan & AJK). Where state of art equipment is installed to ensure provision of safe blood across Pakistan. All blood banks working in Pakistan (public & private) are also screening all potential donors for HIV as per national guidelines.

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