As many as 2,184 people with HIV/AIDS have been registered with the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) since 2005, and the numbers are increasing every year.
This year, over 180 male, 338 female, and seven transgender people have been registered, in addition to 38 children, according to Pims sources.
Talking to The Express Tribune, the head of the Pims Centre for the Treatment and Prevention of AIDS Dr Rizwan Qazi said the number of HIV/AIDS patients getting registered with the hospital is increasing.
Read: Integrated programme: Govt to tackle HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Thalassemia
“On average, 200 to 250 people are added every year. Every month, around 30 people are getting registered with the hospital, which is alarming,” he said, adding that most of the people with HIV were injection drug users (IDU).
“The treatment of IDUs with HIV/AIDS has become a huge challenge because of the limited availability of drug rehabilitation centres,” he said.
Treatment of HIV/AIDS is a lifelong process, and because many IDUs chose not to complete their treatment, they became a major cause of the spread of the virus, said Dr Qazi.
He was of the view that dedicated rehabilitation centres could help motivate infected IDUs to continue treatment and take precautionary measures to avoid spreading the disease.
Meanwhile, National Aids Control Programme Manager Dr Baseer Achakzai said most people being treated at Pims for HIV/AIDS are actually from other cities.
He also said that a shortage of drug rehabilitation facilities is a major hurdle. Dr Achakzai further added that along with IDUS, cases among transgender people and sex workers are worrisome.
“Sex workers have become a significant source of its spread,” he said.
He further expressed concern over the government’s delayed release of funds for the National Aids Control Programme.
“The programme has not received funds from the government since June. This delay is creating problems for control and prevention activities in the capital,” he said.
He claimed they are buying drugs out of their own pockets to continue supplying patients registered at HIV/AIDS treatment centres in the capital.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2015.