Monday December 10, 2018

World Aids Day : World Health Organization (WHO) Issues New Guidelines on HIV Self-Testing

This year, World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines on HIV self-testing

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December 1, 2016: For nearly three decades every December 1 is observed as World Aids Day. AIDS has killed 35 million people since the start of the pandemic. It has left millions of  the orphans in its wake. Every year, 2 million people acquire the virus, and the U.N. estimates that more than 1 million people die from the virus annually.

Taboos related to sex and AIDS is so deep rooted that often people shy away even testing HIV. So this year, World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines on HIV self-testing.

• According to the latest WHO progress report, “lack of an HIV diagnosis is a major obstacle to implementing the Organization’s recommendation that everyone with HIV should be offered antiretroviral therapy (ART).”

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• “Millions of people with HIV are still missing out on life-saving treatment, which can also prevent HIV transmission to others,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan in the release.

• The easy self-testing kit will give the results in just “20 minutes”.

• The WHO report says, “HIV self-testing means people can use oral fluid or blood- finger-pricks to discover their status in a private and convenient setting.”

• The basic care facility and counseling centers to help the patients is already ensured by the UN. Not only that, they would also help the patients to fight against the social stigma which is attached to it.

• The report also focuses on how testing is low among people who are involved in the same-sex relationships, sex workers, transgender, drug addicts and prisoners.

• WHO’s self-testing kits are provided by for free. It also supports other measures that would help people get other such kits at low prices.

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• The release highlights, “HIV self-testing is a way to reach more people with undiagnosed HIV and represents a step forward to empower individuals, diagnose people earlier before they become sick, bring services closer to where people live, and create demand for HIV testing. This is particularly important for those people facing barriers to accessing existing services.”

• WHO hopes that this will have a positive impact and it will be helping those is affected. The organization also urged all the nations to come together and fight, in order to end it by 2030.

– by Pinaz Kazi of NewsGram with inputs from various agencies. Twitter: @PinazKazi

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HIV Epidemic Spreading Rapidly In Pakistan: WHO

U.N. officials say the Pakistan government urgently needs to redouble efforts to "de-stigmatize HIV testing.

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HIV, AIDS Pakistan
The World Health Organization warns Pakistan is registering approximately 20,000 new HIV infections annually, the highest rate of increase among all countries in the region. VOA

Pakistan is registering approximately 20,000 new HIV infections annually, the highest rate of increase among all countries in the region, warns the World Health Organization (WHO).

The international body says mortality among Pakistanis living with the virus, which causes the deadly AIDS disease, is also rising, in spite of the availability of lifesaving antiretroviral therapy.

The latest government figures show that only 16 percent of the estimated 150,000 people living with HIV had been tested and only 9 percent have access to lifesaving treatment.

“The remaining 135,000 people are walking around in the communities as carriers of (HIV) infection who are ready to transmit infections to those who are not infected, even to their unborn babies,” Dr. Saima Paracha of the National AIDS Control Program, told VOA.

HIV. Pakistan
Participants hold placards in the shape of the red ribbon, the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV, as a hot air balloon is released during an awareness campaign ahead of World AIDS Day in Kolkata, India. VOA

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

“The drivers of infection are now the sexual networks and they are ready to spill the infection into the general public,” Dr. Paracha cautioned.

Paracha says the Pakistani government offers free HIV testing and treatment, but she notes the marginalized key populations continue face widespread stigma and discrimination in the society.

The fear of maltreatment, and punitive actions by law enforcers impacts the willingness of these populations to pursue testing, which remains a major challenge facing national efforts to treat and prevent the spread of HIV, she lamented.

Official estimates show that Pakistan has seen a 45 percent increase in new HIV infections since 2010.

HIV AIDS, Pakistan
A patient is seen in a ward at the state-run Lavra clinic, Ukraine’s main HIV treatment center, in Kyiv. VOA

“The number of new HIV infections will continue to increase dramatically if implementation rates of intervention remain at current levels,” said Dr. Nima Saeed Abid, country head of WHO.

An official statement issued in connection with World AIDS Day quoted him as saying that Pakistan has the lowest rate of all regional countries in diagnosing people who are infected and linking them to care and treatment.

Naila Bashir, who heads the HIV treatment center at Islamabad’s Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), told VOA the facility receives up to 40 new HIV patients every month, underscoring the alarming increase in the number of infections.

The center was established in 2005 and the number of patients has since increased from 22 to more than 3,000, including men, women and children of all ages, said Dr. Bashir.

HIV, Pakistan, AIDS
Nearly a million people still die every year from AIDS. VOA

HIV has never been a priority program in the national health system and the recent abolition of the federal health ministry and the devolution of its functions to the provinces, which lacked preparedness and capacity, have led to the increase in infections, say WHO experts in the country. However, they acknowledge the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan is giving priority to tackling health emergencies in Pakistan, including HIV.

Federal Minister for National Health Services Regulation and Coordination, Aamir Mehmood Kiyani, says the government is working on a strategy to remove barriers and challenges in protecting people from HIV infections.

Also Read: Eastern Europe Sees A Rise In Number of HIV Cases

Kiyani told a seminar in Islamabad that since taking office three months ago, the government has moved to established 12 new HIV treatment centers while overall 33 such facilities have been working throughout Pakistan.

U.N. officials say the Pakistan government urgently needs to redouble efforts to “de-stigmatize HIV testing, advocate for confidential, non-discriminatory, community based care models and raise awareness about disease transmission, prevention treatment” to achieve reductions in new infections in affected populations. (VOA)