In a startling revelation, the Balochistan (AIDS) Control Programme Manager Dr Afzal Zarkoon disclosed that 1,523 patients suffering with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome have been reported in the entire province.
While addressing a press conference at Quetta Press Club, Dr Zarkoon said, more than 6,000 AIDS patients have not been registered with the Balochistan Health Department. “Out of the 1,523 patients, 1,195 are registered in Quetta and 328 in Turbat. There are currently 26,000 HIV patients in the country.”
He appealed to the provincial government for releasing funds to battle aids and raise awareness among the masses.
"Media, scholars, teachers and people from all walks of life must play a role in eradicating AIDS," he added. “The next year’s aim should be the eradication of the dangerous disease that destroy’s the body’s immune system.”
It is pertinent to mention that the first case of AIDS in Pakistan was reported in 1987, followed by transmission of the disease from a husband to his wife in 1988 before being transmitted from a mother to her child in 1992.
Dr Zarkoon explained that HIV is transmitted from one person to another through blood, sexual intercourse, blades, dental instruments, surgical instruments and so on. “In Jhal Magsi, Sohbatpur and other border areas of Balochistan and Sindh, 60,000 people were tested for HIV and Hepatitis, out of which only 2 patients tested positive for HIV and 2,500 tested positive for Hepatitis.”
He added that inmates of 12 major jails in Balochistan were tested this year out of which 37 inmates tested positive which was mainly due to sharing syringes to inject drugs. “There are a total number of seven HIV centers out which five were opened this year.”
The newly set up centers are not functional yet because recruitment of staff is underway.
The Balochistan AIDS Control Programme manager relayed that the treatment centers provide medicines to registered patients every month with the help of global funds and the monthly cost of medicines per patient is more than Rs50,000.
He further said that the AIDS Control Programme has organised various programs with scholars and academics for HIV / AIDS awareness.
Responding to a question pertaining to unreliable tests, he said that testing was halted because there was a surge in incorrect results due to the use of substandard kits in Civil Hospital Quetta. “The kits used in the Civil Hospital were not provided by the AIDS Control Programme.”
However, the testing process has begun again after the AIDS Control Programme provided kits to the hospital.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2020