Punjab University VC stresses need to create awareness on AIDS

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Punjab University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir has stressed the need to create awareness regarding AIDS in order to control the fatal disease, as care is better than cure.

He was addressing one-day symposium organised by Punjab University Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (MMG) in collaboration with Punjab AIDS Control Programme (PACP) at Al Raazi Hall here on Thursday.

PU Dean Faculty of Life Sciences Prof Dr Naeem Khan, MMG department Chairperson Prof Dr Anjum Nasim Sabri, nationally distinguished professor and eminent scientist Prof Dr Shahida Husnain, PACP Director Dr Adnan Zafar, faculty members and a large number of students were present on the occasion. Addressing the symposium, Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir said, “If we act upon the teachings of Islam, we could avoid the spread of such diseases.”

He said that blood transfusion, infected medical equipment, dentists, hairdressers, beauty parlours, etc. were major sources of transmission of such diseases. Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir said that knowledge is strength and through knowledge, such diseases could be controlled. He said that rumours regarding AIDS must be removed, and HIV patients must not be treated with discrimination.

In her address, Prof Dr Anjum Nasir Sabri said that according to WHO, there were approximately 36.7 million people living with HIV at the end of 2015. She said that according to 2015 estimates, there were 100,000 people living with AIDS in Pakistan, out of which 3,600 died annually. She said that there were 2,500 HIV positive children aged up to 14 years. She said that UNITAID and the Global Fund expert panel have recently approved the first HIV self-testing product, which meant people could use oral fluid or blood- finger-pricks to discover their status in a private and convenient setting. She said that discrimination-free healthcare services must be provided to HIV patients. She said that civil society should come forward to play its role in the prevention of the disease as well as providing facilities to the patients.

In her address, Dr Tayyaba Rashid from Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department said that HIV prevalence rate in gender population was less than 0.1 per cent in the country. Highlighting risk factor for the spread of HIV, she said that the situation regarding control over the disease in Punjab was better as compared to other provinces. She said that most of the HIV patients were not aware of the disease they were suffering from. She said that awareness could play a major role in controlling the spread of the disease. She said that the government had taken initiatives of providing free diagnostic and treatment services and training had been provided to doctors and paramedical staff of 29 district hospitals.