Published in Pakistan Observer (Nov. 30, 2010)
Islamabad - There are approximately 97,400 cases of HIV and AIDS in Pakistan. “Through awareness and education, we can fight the most dreadful diseases such as HIV & AIDS” was the message of the advocacy seminar organized by National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), Ministry of Health.
The Advocacy Session of NACP held with media persons here at Islamabad on Monday was part of the campaign to observe World AIDS Day 2010. The basic purpose of the seminar was to promote awareness on HIV & AIDS among masses through media.
The session was chaired by Dr. Sajid Ahmed, National Programme Manager of NACP. A large number of govt. officials, UN officials, civil society and representatives from media participated in the seminar.
AIDS remains one of the leading causes of premature death globally. Over 41 million people are living with HIV and AIDS globally. According to World Health Organization (WHO), 90 % of the new HIV positive cases are reported in developing countries.
Pakistan is the second largest country in South Asia that stands only a few steps behind India and Nepal in terms of HIV epidemic. Until recently Pakistan was classified as a ‘low prevalence high risk’ country.
‘Today Pakistan stands at a crucial point where urgent and definite actions can make a difference, if any positive steps are to be taken to prevent a widespread epidemic in the country, the time to act is now” Dr. Sajid said while urging the media to join together in efforts for the prevention and control of the HIV & AIDS.
Dr. Sajid informed the media that “NACP has established 13 ‘AIDS Treatment Centers’ across the country to provide the services of medication to the patients as well as counselling services for the general public.”
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Sajid Ahmed gave a detailed presentation on the current situation of HIV & AIDS in Pakistan and highlighted the efforts being made to prevent and control its spread, specifically amongst the high risk people, injecting drug users and sex workers.
“Stand up for your rights - learn about HIV and AIDs” is the slogan for 2010 World Aids Day.
Highlighting the importance of education in reducing the risk of AIDS he said that several developing countries plus “Bangladesh has included AIDS Education messages in school textbooks for middle and secondary level”. In the same way Pakistan should also work to educate the children on such critical health issues.
World AIDS Day is observed every year on 1st December all over the world since 1988. Theme for World AIDS Day 2010 is “Universal Access and Human Rights” has been chosen to address the critical need to protect human rights and attain access for all to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) has launched a campaign to celebrate this year’s World AIDS Day on 1st December 2010. The campaign will cover diverse range of audience and will include activities such as sports events, posters and story competitions, interactive street theatres, stage shows, musical concerts, youth theatre performances, and a youth conference on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Emphasizing the need to raise awareness about HIV & AIDS among the general population, Dr. Sajid stressed the pivotal role of media in prevention and control of HIV & AIDS through informing the masses.
During his remarks, he observed that the public understanding of how HIV is prevented and treated still remains mixed, and basic awareness about HIV and AIDS and its impact is still lacking, particularly among women and young people.