Central is the worst hit district
Karachi has the most number of reported human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the entire province of Sindh, it emerged according to fresh data on World AIDS Day 2021
The deputy director of the Sindh Communicable Disease Control, Dr Irshad Kazmi, told SAMAA Digital that the city has even surpassed Larkana in the number of cases.
Karachi’s Central district has 2,725 cases, more than any other district.
There are 1,035 reported cases in district South, 998 in West, 907 in Korangi, 667 in Malir, 436 in Central.
“In total, there are 6,768 cases in Karachi, 1,089 in Hyderabad and 2,430 in Larkana, including 1,200 children.”
Dr Kazmi links Karachi’s HIV cases to a number of reasons.
“There is an abundance of quacks and unregistered blood banks in the city. These blood banks are responsible for substandard blood transfusions,” he said.
Another reason is the unchecked use of syringes. Eight million syringes are used in Pakistan every year, which is the highest in the world, according to Dr Kazmi.
However, the government is working on curbing the reuse of disposable syringes.
Hospitals are now using syringes with auto locks. This will prove effective in curbing HIV as these syringes cannot be reused.
Government hospitals are mandated to purchase 80 percent of auto lock syringes for its stock. These syringes are used in the ongoing vaccination campaigns against Rubella and coronavirus.
The Sindh health department will run awareness campaigns about HIV in the educational institutes.
The campaign titled “Test Karain, Status Janein” will start from Karachi’s varsities and gradually expand to universities across the provinces.
The campaign will target young people in all major universities of the province and address their apprehensions regarding the screening process.
The health department will begin screening tests in high-risk areas from January. These areas include Karachi’s South and Central districts, Jacobabad, Garhi Khairo, Garhi Yaseen, Shikarpur, Ratodero, Larkana, Chak 70 Sanghar, and seven adjoining villages of Hyderabad and Matiari.
These screening tests will help identify positive HIV cases.
“We have identified 1,000 more people who were unaware of their HIV status. This takes the number of registered HIV patients in Sindh to 17,000,” said Dr Kazmi.
There are still more than 69,000 people in the province who are unaware of their HIV status.
A meeting of Muslim, Hindu and Christian religion leaders was called a few days ago to assist the government in raising awareness against this disease. They were requested to tell people about screening tests through Friday sermons and persuade them to seek treatment.