HIV cases in Pakistan have increased sharply by 74% over the past decade, according to the latest progress report of a global coalition formed to prevent the spread of the virus.
The 2020 progress report, published by the UN Global HIV Prevention Coalition (GPC), showed that despite a decline in new HIV infections among adults in several countries, overall worldwide progress in prevention was too slow to reach the 2020 target of a reduction in infections among adults to fewer than 500,000 a year.
Pakistan is among the countries where a rise in infections has been recorded. Citing “low coverage of prevention and treatment services for key populations” in Pakistan, the report said the number of adults newly infected with HIV in the country increased by 74% between 2010 and 2019.
In Pakistan, according to the National Aids Control Programme, an estimated 190,000 people are infected with this disease; of them, only about 44,000 are aware of their status and registered with treatment centres.
Over the last few years, the situation in Pakistan has evolved from low prevalence to concentrated epidemic, with HIV prevalence among injecting drug users registering over 5% in at least eight major cities.
Other high-risk groups are well on their way to reaching this threshold. Nearly 5 million people are in direct sexual contact with these groups and susceptible to being infected through unprotected sex.
That could be the gateway to HIV/Aids becoming a generalised contagion. Ignorance about the disease is rife: according to UNAids, only 4.29% of young people between 15 and 24 years of age in Pakistan correctly identified ways of preventing sexual transmission of HIV.