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UN expresses concern over HIV prevalence in Karachi

Pakistan should chip in with all resources available to contain HIV, a senior official of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has said, a media report said on Thursday.

“Since Karachi is among the top cities of the world where HIV’s prevalence is high, it is time to work more efficiently among such communities in this city, including raising awareness among all stakeholders to keep the disease in check,” said Mamadou Sakho, Country Director, UNAIDS Pakistan and Afghanistan, at a media briefing on Wednesday.

He said it was time to work among the communities, which were vulnerable to the disease. They were termed the ‘most at risk’ populations, including people who inject drugs (PWIDs), transgender people, male and female sex workers and prisoners, Dawn news reported.

“At present, Pakistan is among the countries where specific communities are exposed to HIV, warranting us to work among them and contain the disease. If it is not done and the disease gets generalised like it is in the countries of Africa, it will become too difficult to rein it in.”

In a recent meeting with the parliamentarians of the country, Sakho had advised them to work diligently to contain the disease while the world was there to support Pakistan in certain fields technically and financially, he said.

Programme Manager of the Sindh AIDS Control Programme (SACP) Younis Chachar said the new estimates showed the region had almost half of the country’s total HIV population, which was some 56,949.

However, he said his organisation had reported 11,464 HIV patients so far who had been put under treatment. They included 11,225 HIV positive people, while the remaining 239 were full-blown AIDS cases.

He said that in addition to treatment facilities in Karachi and Larkana, the SACP would be establishing more facilities in the city and the rest of Sindh.

Family awareness centres from basic health units and rural health centres’ level to tertiary levels in Sindh districts had been planned.

The new plans, he said, would help the SACP achieve 80 per cent coverage.

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