Karachi now in concentrated phase of HIV epidemic

KARACHI: Karachi is now classified in the concentrated phase of the HIV epidemic where the overall prevalence among people who inject drugs is over 48%, officials said on Thursday, adding that other high-risk groups such as transgender and men who have sex with men (MSM) have also exceeded the concentrated epidemic threshold. Possible drivers of the epidemic seem to point to unsafe practices of blood transfusion and reuse of injection needles and syringes.

To help 95% of people living with HIV (PLHIV), their status and get 95% of them to adopt antiretroviral treatment (ART), the administrator of Karachi, the lawyer Murtaza Wahab, and the national director of UNAIDS for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Yuki Takemoto, signed a memorandum of understanding. (MoU) to join a network of over 350 cities around the world committed to ending their urban HIV epidemics by 2030.

In doing so, Karachi will become Pakistan’s first fast-track city, joining 11 other cities in the Asia-Pacific region. Pakistan has about 210,000 people living with HIV, 43% of them in Sindh province with 19,031 positive cases. As many as 16,868 (89%) are receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART), of which 7,774 (46%) are from the Karachi metropolis.

Cities joining the Accelerated Cities Network aim to help cities and municipalities share best practices with each other, thereby supporting urban learning communities and achieving the UNAIDS “95-95-95-95” programmatic goals. on HIV. In line with the new Global AIDS Strategy (2021-2026), Fast Track Cities have now committed to a more ambitious set of targets (95-95-95) with the addition of a fourth target of 95 % of people at risk people using HIV combination prevention.

Complementing these goals is a call to zero stigma and discrimination. Achieving these goals puts cities and municipalities on a path to zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero stigma for people living with and affected by HIV. As the initiative’s primary core technical partner, IAPAC supports Accelerated Cities by providing technical assistance to health departments on data generation, monitoring and reporting, engaging in planning implementation with local stakeholders, building the capacity of clinical and service providers, community HIV-based organizations and affected communities, facilitating activities to eliminate HIV-related stigma in health facilities, assessing the quality of life of communities of people living with HIV and sharing best practices in policy and programming.

Sindh Minister of Health Dr Azra Pechuho who was present at the MoU signing ceremony thanked UNAIDS for supporting Sindh in being part of the Fast Track Cities initiative and hoped that it would make a positive change in the lives of people living with HIV. in Karachi.

Parliamentary Party Secretary for Health MPA of Sindh Qasim Soomro, Director General of Health of Sindh Dr Jumman Bahoto, Deputy Director General of Communicable Disease Control (CDC) of Sindh Dr Ershad Kazmi, officials of the UNAIDS Dr Rajwal Khan, Fahmida Khan and others were present.

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