The Punjab AIDS Control Programme (PACP), in partnership with Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) organised a candle vigil at Food Street, Badshahi Mosque on Thursday to commemorate World AIDS Day.Advisor to Chief Minister on Health Hanif Khan Pitafi was the chief guest. Punjab Health Services Director General Dr Munir Ahmed and PACP Director Dr Asim Altaf attended the event with representatives from UNICEF, World Health Organisation, WCLA, Vertical Programmes and officials of the primary and secondary healthcare department. Advisor to the chief minister on health congratulated the organisers for putting together a colourful event on HIV/AIDS awareness. He said the government was fully focused on interventions for marginalised people. “The programme is reaching out to jail population, bus and truck drivers as well as general population through multiple initiatives. I urge all to give care and support to HIV patients,” Hanif Khan Pitafi added. The Punjab Health Services director general highlighted that prevention was prime focus of the programme.“Punjab has been able to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by quite a margin, keeping the HIV prevalence way below the 0.1 percent target. The programme is taking measures to end stigma and discrimination towards HIV patients as well,” he said. Dr Asim Altaf said, “Pakistan faces a concentrated epidemic as the diseases is mostly prevalent in certain high risk group though quackery has been identified as main source of its spread in pockets in general population. Keeping in view the nature of challenges, the PACP has devised special strategies.” The PACP has set up Pakistan’s first ever exclusive transgender persons clinic at Fountain House and has initiated a special project for high risk groups in the Walled City,” he added. Dr Altaf said that the World AIDS Day walks and seminars were held throughout Punjab and everywhere people gathered in big numbers to stand with the cause. He also thanked partners UNICEF and WCLA for their support for the cause. The candle vigil was followed by release of sky lanterns. The visitors at the Food Street enjoyed the light show as well where awareness documentaries were played.Published in Daily Times, December 14th 2018.