More than 37,000 people inject drugs in Pakistan’s 14 cities, reveals study

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has an estimated 37,137 people who inject drugs (PWIDs) spread over 7,401 spots in 14 cities, 64,829 sex workers spread over 4,514 spots in 18 cities, and 31,790 transgender people spread over 9,820 spots in 23 cities, as revealed by the latest mapping study conducted to create evidence for the development of HIV prevention strategies.

The report is a joint effort of the National AIDS Control Programme and UNAIDS. The University of Manitoba Centre for Global Public Health, Canada, and its local team in Pakistan provided technical support for the study. Moreover, a technical working group was set up to oversee the execution of the study.

The study mapped PWIDs in 14 cities, where an estimated 37,137 PWIDs were spread over 7,401 spots. Of the total PWIDs mapped, almost two-thirds were reported to be from Karachi, which has 24,036 PWIDs, followed by Bahawalpur (2,755 PWIDs) and Hyderabad (2,164 PWIDs).

The study admits that “the HIV prevention programme in Pakistan is patchy and hasn’t sustained itself over the last five years.” It adds that the current capacity required for a fully scaled-up design and delivery of appropriate HIV prevention services is far from adequate. “Scaling-up will not only require an expansion in NGO (non-governmental organization) and CBO (community-based organization) capacities, but also a more refined and focused effort to address the HIV prevention challenge,” the study concludes.