HYDERABAD - After an outbreak of HIV/AIDs as many as 10 people have lost their lives while 837 patients have so far been registered in Antiretroviral Therapy Clinic (ARTC) established at Liaquat Medical University hospital Hyderabad in August 2018.
According to official figures, out of 837 registered positive cases, 92 patients have been declared as AIDS patients while rest of the patients were tested as HIV patients and complete treatment facilities were being provided to them.
The Incharge of Antiretroviral Therapy Clinic (ARTC) Hyderabad, Dr Shaista Shah while talking to APP said HIV treatment is called antiretroviral therapy (ART), though it is not a cure but it can control the virus so that one can live a longer, healthier life and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others.
Dr Shah said in ART clinic Hyderabad registered HIV positive and AIDs patients belonged to different parts of the country and the province including Hyderabad district. Two patients from Lahore, 6 from Khaniwal, one from Bahawalpur and one from Sahiwal districts of Punjab are registered here in the clinic, she informed.
Under National AIDs Control Program with the collaboration of the Global Fund, 38 Antiretroviral Therapy Clinics are established in Pakistan which were providing required treatment facilities to the registered patients, Dr Shaista Shah said and added that eight clinics functioning in Karachi, two in Larkana, one each in Sukkur and Hyderabad while two more clinics one each in Mirpurkhas and Nawabshah (Shaheed Benazirabad) would soon be established to facilitate the patients belonging to the respective areas.
Providing details of the ART clinics, Dr Shah said there were 12 ART clinics functioning in Sindh out of which 9 for adults and three for the peads, adding that in civil hospital Karachi one Adult and a Peds, in Agha Khan University Hospital Karachi one adult and one peds, one each ART clinics were funtioning in Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Abbassi Shaheed Hospital, Indus Hospital and Liyari General Hospital in Karachi where screening and therapy facilities are being provided to the registered patients.
In Chandka Medical College hospital one adult and in Shaikh Zayed hospital Larakana one peds ART clinic was functioning, she said and added that one each in Liaqat Medical College Hospital Hyderabad and Ghulam Muhammad Mahar College Hospital Sukkur were functioning for facilitation of the people infected and affected by the HIV/AIDs.
She said all required medicines, screening kits and laboratory facilities were available here at ART clinic and being provided to the registered patients free of cost. Though treatment is very costly but with the help of the Global Fund, the National AIDs Control Program was providing this facility to the registered patients, Dr. Shah asserted.
In responding to a question, she informed that in ART Hyderabad 410 registered positive cases belongs to district Hyderabad while 83 patients belong to Shaheed Benazirabad, 82 positive cases belonged to Jamshoro district, 26 from Badin, 60 from Mirpurkhas, 68 from Sanghar, 26 from Tando Allahyar, 12 from Tharparkar, 5 from Jacobabad, 26 from Dadu, 6 from Thatta, 19 from Matiari, and one each from Karachi, Sajawal, Khairpur, and Shikarpur.
Dr Shah said in Hyderabad district high risk areas had been identified where majority of HIV positive patients had been diagnosed after screening. Maso Bhurgari, Hatri, Barchani, Chhalgari, Tando Saeed Khan, Mevo Khan Hajano, Gul Muhammad Chhalgari, Shadi Khan Leghari, Wanki Wasi, Mitho Khan Hajano and other villages are included in high risk areas as for as HIV/AIDs is concerned, she disclosed. She said pre ART services, ART services and diagnosis services were being provided to the people infected with HIV including baseline investigations, CD-4 testing, viral load testing, hospital admission and other facilities.
She called upon civil society, media and other stakeholders for creating awareness among the people about this deadly virus so that it could be stopped from further spreading.
The World Health Organization’s guidelines on HIV treatment recommend a test and treat strategy. In this current outbreak, people with HIV stage III and IV are the targets for treatment. However, in some screening camps, WHO-recommended standards for testing are not being implemented due to unavailability of the recommended test kits in some parts of the province especially in Larkana and Sukkur.
Possible drivers of the outbreak seem to indicate unsafe practices of blood transfusion and re-use of injection needles and syringes while sex workers, drug addicts, transgender and use of contaminated razor blades are the main causes of spreading of HIV/AIDs, official sources said and revealed that more than 15000 cases had so far been registered as positive HIV/AIDs patients while this figure could be more than double if proper screening would be conducted across the province.