SKMCH&RC to offer diagnostic testing services, medicines to AIDS patients

LAHORE: Today, AIDS is still one of the greatest public health challenges faced by low and middle-income countries. There are 36.7 million individuals living with AIDS in the world, out of which 2.1 million are children less than 15 years old. AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is the last stage of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) when the body can no longer fight life-threatening infections. A patient is diagnosed with AIDS when the patient’s CD4 count falls below the defined threshold.

The development of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) marks the latest advancement in the treatment of HIV due to which HIV positive patients can now expect to lead a long and healthy life. This information was shared by Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre Chief Executive Officer and Consultant Infectious Diseases Dr Faisal Sultan, on the World AIDS Day. While discussing symptoms of this disease he explained that AIDS include consistent weight loss, skin diseases, and repeated occurrence of infections such as pneumonia. Speaking about the preventive measures, Dr Sultan emphasised on public awareness about the transmission of HIV such as avoiding used syringes, transfusion of blood that is not screened, and unprotected sex. He further shared that this potentially fatal disease exists in almost every country. HIV is mainly transmitted through blood and sexual intercourse. However, today, the advancement in medicine has helped in controlling it to a great extent compared to the past. According to the National AIDS Control Programme, Pakistan has about a 130,000 patients suffering from AIDS.

Dr Faisal Sultan informed the journalists that, due to the cooperation of Punjab AIDS Control Program, facilities to provide treatment and other services to the patients of AIDS are now available in various hospitals in Punjab. SKMCH&RC also offers diagnostic testing services and medicines including (ART) to the AIDS patients. Although AIDS is not curable at this point in time, however, treatment is available that can significantly improve the quality of life of AIDS patients.

In a message to the public, he said that we can control AIDS by raising awareness about causes, symptoms, and prevention of this disease among the public. Instead of stigmatising or getting afraid of AIDS, it is important to see a doctor and get treatment. Unfortunately, a social stigma is associated with AIDS and there is a need to create public awareness about the fact that AIDS cannot be transmitted just by having a conversation or eating together. We should treat AIDS patients with compassion.

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