PESHAWAR: The majority of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected persons in Pakistan are unaware of their infection and are not getting any treatment or precautionary measures that could avoid the spread of the disease, speakers at an event in connection with the World Aids Day noted here in Peshawar on Tuesday. An estimated 133,000 persons in Pakistan are affected with HIV but the total number of registered HIV/AIDS patients since 1992 is 3,222 across the country. It is believed that nearly 80 per cent of the HIV is spread in Pakistan through Injection Drug Use (IDU), including unprotected sex, use of used syringes and expatriates infected in the Middle East. It is estimated that the number of HIV positive persons in Punjab reached 64,000 followed by Sindh with 56,000. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has an estimated 8,500 HIV positive patients while the number reached nearly 3,000 in Balochistan. There are no records available for Fata, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Karachi remains the city with highest number of HIV patients where the estimates suggest at least 24,000 persons to be carrying the virus. Dr Muhammad Ayub Roz, Director General and Health services Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and chief guest at the event organized by North West School of Medicine (NWSM) informed the participants that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was dedicated to better address the HIV/AIDA pandemic in the province. “The provincial government has dedicated Rs 500 million for HIV/AIDS for the next three years. This amount will be spent on creating awareness among the people and new Family Care Centres in at least eight tertiary care hospitals in the province,” he added. “Until now, KP had only two specialised centres for HIV/AIDS at Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) Peshawar and Kohat. A newly established third dedicated centre will soon be operational at Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) Peshawar to facilitate patients from Peshawar and its surrounding cities and Fata,” Dr Ayub Roz detailed. He also highlighted the need for more interactive approach towards the HIV/AIDS issue. “It’s more about prevention through teaching and less treating the diseases. Officials, doctors, students of medicine, nurses and everyone who is aware of the HIV should take the message to everyone they know and help creating awareness throughout the country,” Dr Roz added. Earlier, Dr Riaz Gul, Head of Community Medicine at NWSM talked about the importance of public health awareness for prevention from various diseases. Dr Ijaz Hassan Khattak, Principal NWSM lauded the KP government’s efforts in making health as a priority in the province. “The selection of the new DG Health shows the sincerity of the government in further improving the health status of KP,” he said. Ms. Maimoona Noor, director of All Women Advancement and Resource Development (AWARD) presented facts and figures about HIV/AIDS. She noted that HIV spread mostly through four types of body fluids, namely fluids from male and female during intercourse, body fluids, blood transfusion and breast feeding. Maimoona informed that HIV infection was immediately contagious and early treatment was must for stopping the virus from further spreading. “Many people infected with HIV have no symptoms for 10 years or more. The virus can be detected three months after infection through various tests. However, further tests should be performed six months after detection to confirm the virus,” she added. She also said that poverty, abuse, stigmatizing and discrimination were some of the main reasons behind infected persons’ non-disclosure of their infection. Dr Adil Zareef, chief organizer of the event thanked the officials and participants of the event. “The NWSM is committed to provision of quality health services to the public of KP and Fata. We take pride in promoting awareness about health issues concerning Pakistan,” he added. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 36.7 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2016. Since its discovery, AIDS has caused an estimated 39 million deaths till 2014. Though there were about 300,000 fewer new HIV cases in 2016, the number of newly infected persons stood at a staggering 1.8 million worldwide. Published in Daily Times, December 6th 2017.