Wednesday December 11, 2019

The HIV Spread in Pakistan: Government And UN Investigating Causes

Some also blame unsafe injection practices by quack doctors for contributing to the spread of HIV. Government officials estimate about 600,000 unqualified doctors are unlawfully operating in Pakistan and 270,000 of them are practicing in Sindh. 

0
//
HIV patients take part in an awareness session at Pakistan Society, a nongovernmental organization drop-in center, in Karachi, Nov. 30, 2013. Pixabay

Officials in Pakistan and the United Nations are investigating causes of a new outbreak of HIV infections in a southern district where nearly 400 people have been diagnosed in less than two weeks. Officials confirmed Saturday that nearly 80% of those infected are children, with nearly half of them under age 5.

Local media began reporting about the epidemic two weeks ago from Larkana, a district of Sindh province, which has already experienced three outbreaks in recent years. A local doctor who treated several patients with a single needle and syringe was blamed for spreading the virus, which causes AIDS.

The provincial government rushed teams of public health workers to the district, with an estimated population of 1.5 million, to quickly assess the situation and mobilize resources to curtail further spread of HIV. More than 9,000 people have since been subjected to screening in the affected district, and the process is continuing, Sikandar Memon, the provincial head of the AIDS Control Program, told reporters.

A UNAIDS spokeswoman told VOA that international partners had joined local teams to help quickly carry out an outbreak investigation and address the acute needs of the people infected with HIV, including immediately linking them to treatment, care and support services.

The spokeswoman, Fahmida Khan, said efforts were being made to ensure that unsafe injection and blood transfusion practices were being stopped. She also noted that there were unconfirmed reports of similar HIV outbreaks in surrounding districts.

FILE - Pakistani social activists carry placards during a rally to raise awareness on World AIDS Day in Lahore, Dec. 1, 2016.
Pakistani social activists carry placards during a rally to raise awareness on World AIDS Day in Lahore, Dec. 1, 2016. VOA

Focus of problem

Sindh, with a population of nearly 48 million, accounts for 43% of an estimated 150,000 people living with HIV in Pakistan.

U.N. officials say since 2010, there has been a 57% increase in new HIV/AIDS infections in Pakistan. They noted that among all identified HIV cases in Pakistan, 43,000 are females.

Last year, an estimated 20,000 people were newly identified with HIV in Pakistan and 6,200 people died of AIDS, according to local and U.N. officials.

Khan would not comment on the reasons for the high number of HIV infections among children and the potential causes of the latest outbreak in Larkana, saying “further investigations and epidemiological review is yet required and suggested.”

Provincial authorities also have launched a high-level investigation to ascertain the veracity of the allegations against the local doctor, who already has been taken into police custody.

UN
Pakistani and U.N. officials say the HIV epidemic in Pakistan remains largely concentrated among key populations, including people who inject drugs, the transgender community, sex workers and their clients, and men who have sex with men. Pixabay

Some also blame unsafe injection practices by quack doctors for contributing to the spread of HIV. Government officials estimate about 600,000 unqualified doctors are unlawfully operating in Pakistan and 270,000 of them are practicing in Sindh.

Also Read: Trade Deal May Be ‘Far Worse’ After 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump Warns China

Critics also blame lapses in Pakistan’s national health system, the low priority given to the problem, corruption, the recent abolition of the federal health ministry and the delegation of its functions to the provinces for the worsening health sector situation and the increase in HIV infections.

Pakistani and U.N. officials say the HIV epidemic in Pakistan remains largely concentrated among key populations, including people who inject drugs, the transgender community, sex workers and their clients, and men who have sex with men. (VOA)

Next Story

Machine Learning Can Help Doctors to Improve End-Of-Life Conversation with Patients

A deeper understanding of these conversations, which are often freighted with emotion and uncertainty, will also help reveal what aspects or behaviors associated with these conversations are more valuable for patients and families

0
Machine Learning
A Research used Machine Learning algorithms to analyze 354 transcripts of palliative care conversations collected by the Palliative Care Communication Research Initiative, involving 231 patients. Pixabay

Researchers at University of Vermont have used Machine Learning and natural language processing (NLP) to better understand conversations about death, which could eventually help doctors improve their end-of-life communication.

Some of the most important, and difficult, conversations in healthcare are the ones that happen amid serious and life-threatening illnesses.

Discussions of the treatment options and prognoses in these settings are a delicate balance for doctors and nurses who are dealing with people at their most vulnerable point and may not fully understand what the future holds.

“We want to understand this complex thing called a conversation. Our major goal is to scale up the measurement of conversations so we can re-engineer the healthcare system to communicate better,” said Robert Gramling, director of the Vermont Conversation Lab in the study published in the journal Patient Education and Counselling.

Gramling and his colleagues used machine learning algorithms to analyze 354 transcripts of palliative care conversations collected by the Palliative Care Communication Research Initiative, involving 231 patients.

They broke each conversation into 10 parts with an equal number of words in each, and examined how the frequency and distribution of words referring to time, illness terminology, sentiment and words indicating possibility and desirability changed between each decile.

“We picked up some strong signals,” said Gramling.

Conversations tended to progress from talking about the past to talking about the future, and from sadder to happier sentiments. “There was quite a range, they went from pretty sad to pretty happy,” Gramling added.

Machine Learning
Researchers at University of Vermont have used Machine Learning and natural language processing (NLP) to better understand conversations about death, which could eventually help doctors improve their end-of-life communication. Pixabay

The consistent results across multiple conversations show just how much people make meaning out of stories in healthcare.

“What we found supports the importance of narrative in medicine,” he said.

That knowledge could eventually help healthcare practitioners understand what makes a “good” conversation about palliative care, and how different kinds of conversations might require different responses.
That could help create interventions that are matched to what the conversation indicates the patient needs the most.

ALSO READ: Light Alcohol Consumption Might Also Increase Cancer Risk: Study

A deeper understanding of these conversations, which are often freighted with emotion and uncertainty, will also help reveal what aspects or behaviors associated with these conversations are more valuable for patients and families. (IANS)