PESHAWAR - Health experts at the Worlds AIDS Day seminar at Sheikh Zayed Islamic Centre, University of Peshawar, termed displacement and economic vulnerability as the main reason behind the spread of Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

They said overseas Pakistanis especially those living the Gulf and Middle East are the prime carrier of Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV), and once they come or are forced to go back to Pakistan, they transmit it to their wives. Several Afghans within the system are also suffering from the disease and are transmitting it to others in Pakistan.

They said women are the silent victims of the disease in the country. The disease is being transmitted among the loved ones whom we care the most, and called for getting to zero for new cases in Pakistan as per this year’s slogan.

The seminar was arranged by Shiekh Zayed Islamic Centre, University of Peshawar with the support Directorate of Health Services Fata, UNICEF and UNAIDS. Federal Minister for State and Frontier Region Engineer Shaukatullah was the chief guest of the day.

Addressing the public health issues in Pakistan is part of the millennium development goals, said Osama, the outgoing country director for UNAIDS in Pakistan. He added extra marital relations are not the sole reason for spread of the disease, in fact use of injectable drugs and transfusion of unsafe blood is the main cause in country’s like Pakistan. He urged the need for a tangible role from Islamic scholars and civil society for eradication of the (AIDS).

The chief guest in his address said that we have to put aside our cultural and religious barriers to effectively control AIDS. He added most of the patients do not undergo a test for HIV due to social norms of the country and the intuition that the disease is only spread through doing sex other than spouse.

Vice Chancellor University of Peshawar Prof Dr Qibla Ayaz said prevalence of AIDS in the country is due to the personal interacting process with the people in world. The world has become globalised, and that is why some diseases, which were not known in this region are found here nowadays owing to the frequent travelling and existence of heterogeneous societies, he added.

Secretary Social Sector Fata Dr Aftab Durrani said, cases of AIDS in Pakistan appeared in late 1980s and today we have around ninety eight thousand declared cases in the country. The number of carriers who never undergo a test for the disease is two times more than this number, he added. India is the country most affected by HIV virus among Asia and the number of HIV positive patients are around 35 million in the whole world, he said. 88% women in Fata don’t know about the name of the disease in first place, said Dr Muhamamd Rafiq of UNICEF.