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HIV/AIDS reaching epidemic level in Pak town

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Islamabad, Aug 29 (IANS) The increase of HIV/AIDS cases in Shahkot, a town in Pakistan’s Punjab district, has reached the verge of an epidemic, a law enforcement agency report has revealed.

In its report sent to Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, the agency unveiled that the number of HIV/AIDS cases has reached 140 in Shahkot after 85 more people tested positive for the virus this year, Dawn news reported on Thursday.

"A survey of the field staff of this agency has revealed that HIV virus (AIDS) is spreading rapidly in Shahkot of district Nankana Sahib," reads the report.

Of the 140 cases reported in the town of approximately 200,000 people, 54 surfaced from September 1 to December 31, 2018 while 85 new people tested positive for the virus from January 1 to July 27 this year.

The report further revealed that 56 women and a seven-year-old child were among those infected.

It stated that 399 people underwent screening after the district health authorities arranged a camp on July 24 to assess the health status of the Shahkot residents. Of them, 11, including seven women, tested positive.

"The spread of HIV is being caused by use of narcotics, brothel houses, immoral activities of transgender persons, use of non-sterilised equipments by health practitioners — including quacks — and use of contaminated razors by barbers," the report said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) in a report in July said that Pakistan was one of the countries in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region where new HIV infections are increasing at an alarming level since 1987.

The current HIV epidemic in Pakistan is defined as a concentrated epidemic, the report said.

Although the overall prevalence is still less than 1 per cent in the adult population, the latest estimate (2017) of people living with HIV was 150,0002. In 2018, 21,000 new cases were recorded.

 

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