20,000 new HIV cases in Pakistan annually

December 4, 2018 - 9:52

TEHRAN _ In an alarming development, Pakistan is registering approximately 20,000 new HIV cases annually, the highest rate among all countries in the region, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The international body says mortality among Pakistanis living with the virus, which causes the deadly AIDS disease, is also rising, in spite of the availability of lifesaving antiretroviral therapy.

The latest government figures show that only 16 percent of the estimated 150,000 people living with HIV had been tested and only 9 percent have access to lifesaving treatment.

“The remaining 135,000 people are walking around in the communities as carriers of (HIV) infection who are ready to transmit infections to those who are not infected, even to their unborn babies,” Dr. Saima Paracha of the National AIDS Control Program, was quoted saying in media.

Pakistani officials say the HIV epidemic in Pakistan remains largely concentrated among the key populations, including people who inject drugs, the transgender community, sex workers and their clients and men who have sex with men.

The fear of maltreatment, and punitive actions by law enforcers impacts the willingness of these populations to pursue testing, which remains a major challenge facing national efforts to treat and prevent the spread of HIV, Dr. Paracha lamented.

Official estimates show that Pakistan has seen a 45 percent increase in new HIV infections since 2010.

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