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The Curse of the HIV
The Curse of the HIV

The Curse of the HIV

According to the most recent data, 9,773 people in Pakistan were HIV positive during the last ten months

ISLAMABAD: The rising number of HIV-positive cases in Pakistan is alarming, but health officials, while taking it seriously, rely solely on public awareness and seminars.

The outdated website of the National Aids Control Programme (NACP), which works under the Ministry of Health, demonstrates the concerned authorities’ interest and seriousness about health issues in the country.

According to the most recent data, 9,773 people in Pakistan were HIV positive during the last ten months of the current year, indicating progress in the country’s HIV prevention and control efforts.

As of today, approximately 1000 new HIV cases are reported each month from all over the country, including the federal capital and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). The date indicates that HIV is now spreading to the general population from key populations such as drug users, males, females, and transgender sex workers, as well as those involved in homosexuality.

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As per sources in the National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination (NHSR&C), the health ministry has spent millions of dollars from the Global Fund and other donor agencies to prevent the spread of HIV over the last 11 years, but new cases are increasing every month.

According to the data, Punjab has the most new HIV cases, with 6,106 people testing positive between January and October 2022; Sindh is second, with 2,097 people testing positive for HIV in the last 10 months; and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has 815 new HIV cases reported in the current year until October 31, 2022.

From January to October 2022, 316 new HIV cases were reported in Balochistan, while 496 new HIV cases were reported in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

Punjab is the most affected province, with 400 people diagnosed with HIV in January, 475 in February, 572 in March, 547 in April, 610 in May, 723 in June, 669 in July, 701 in August, 712 in September, and 697 in October 2022.

Sindh is second on the list, with 2,097 new HIV cases reported in the first ten months of this year, with 164 cases reported in January, 148 in February, 182 in March, 201 in April, 183 in May, 211 in June, 181 in July, 169 in August, 236 in September, and 140 new cases reported in October 2022, according to official data.

In the first ten months of the current year, KP had 815 new HIV cases, with 71 new cases reported in January, 96 in February, 71 in March, 61 in April, 68 in May, 85 in June, 84 in July, 87 in August, 101 in September, and 91 in October 2022.

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The federal capital reported 496 new HIV cases in the first ten months of the current year, with 36 cases in January, 57 in February, 38 in March, 33 in April, 43 in May, 72 in June, 51 in July, 59 in August, 60 in September, and 47 in October 2022.

Balochistan had the lowest number of new HIV cases in the first ten months of the current year, where 259 HIV cases were reported, with 32 cases in January, 18 in February, 27 in March, 31 in April, 21 in May, 40 in June, 19 in July, 27 in August, 29 in September, and 15 cases in October 2022.

Dr. Faisal Mahmood, an expert on HIV and other infectious diseases affiliated with Karachi’s Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), told Bol News that one of the major reasons for the rising number of new HIV cases is the millions of medical tests performed in the country. The main reasons are inadequate infection prevention and control.

He stated that men having sex with men, or MSM, are one of the key populations in Pakistan where HIV is rapidly spreading because Pakistani MSM differ greatly in characteristics from the rest of the world. Transgender sex workers and drug-addicted males and females are the main sources of infection.

He went on to say that our healthcare system was also a major contributor to the spread of HIV in Pakistan and that if not controlled, HIV cases would soon number in the millions, much like Hepatitis C.

According to sources at Rawalpindi’s Holy Family Hospital, each patient bed generates approximately 4 kg of medical waste per day, including syringes and drips, with only a few kilogrammes being sent to incinerators to be disposed of each week and the remainder being sold illegally for recycling.

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The incinerator machine is installed at Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, where other hospitals are required to send their medical waste to be disposed of; however, they only receive 5 to 10 kg of used syringes and other medically used items every week.

Many local businesses buy medical waste from hospitals and recycle it, which is one of the major causes of the increase in new HIV cases.

Despite taking action to prevent the sale of used medical waste and to ensure its proper disposal, health officials rely solely on public service messages and seminars to justify their donors.

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