LAHORE: Drug addicts, eunuchs and sex workers might be at greater risk for contracting HIV/AIDS, but adolescents, especially those on the streets, are also at risk, Punjab AIDS Control Programme (PACP) Director Salman Shahid said, highlighting the importance of sexual and reproductive health rights through Life Skills Based Education at a briefing session on Monday.
The session was organised by the Schools4Life programme under the Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi in collaboration with Rutgers WPF.
The HIV is usually transferred through blood transfusions, sharing syringes, from mother to child and through sexual intercourse.
“That is why it is so important to create awareness and reach out to young people,” he said. The AIDS control programme, he said, focused on reproductive rights and awareness against HIV. He said that as many as 70 organisations were working with the programme to create awareness in schools and colleges.
“There are 5,000 reported HIV/AIDS cases in the province,” Dr Shahid said, “It is hard to ascertain the exact number because infected people are reluctant to identify themselves.”
The AIDS Control Programme has registered as many as 3,000 cases in their centres across the province. Of these, 1,300 are being given regular treatment. “Wives of men working abroad are at great risk of contracting the disease,” Dr Shahid, “Many labourers employed in Gulf States contract the disease there and do not reveal their illness when deported.”
The PACP has developed test mechanisms, particularly for women. As many as 4,500 women have been tested so far, Dr Shahid said.