DERA GHAZI KHAN-Increase in the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases has put a question mark on the government’s healthcare claim with over 10,000 AIDS patients belonging to South Punjab.

In a few months, 20 women and 40 children have reportedly become victim of the AIDS in Dera Ghazi Khan. In terms of population, hundreds of people including children and mothers are victim of the disease. A senior official of AIDS Control Programme revealed that a total of 40 pregnant women are victim of HIV/AIDS in the district. They said that their children have also been exposed to the threat of AIDS. Dr Najma Shaheen said that mostly ADIS patients in different hospitals of Punjab are from DG Khan.

Teaching Hospital Medical Superintendent Musa Kaleem said that all these patients, including women and children, are going to be registered to arrange free medical treatment for them. He said that the government is already providing medicines to the patients to increase their life period as the disease not curable. According to the hospital sources, there are around 10,000 HIV/AIDS patients in South Punjab.

AIDS Centre In-charge Dr Sumera said that DG Khan alone has 1,050 patients registered with the Punjab AIDS Control Programme, adding the number of unregistered patients in DG Khan district may be over 8,000.

“There has been a 50 percent increase in the number of HIV/AIDS patients reported during the last year,” he said. He added the percentage is on the rise. He said that out of 1,050 patients registered with the Punjab AIDS Control Programme, 50 have also been diagnosed with tuberculosis. He said 48 percent of the patients are women. He added that treatment of AIDS patients can cost up to Rs90,000 a month.

“We are required to protect patients’ identity and the screening test is carried out free of cost,” he said. He noted that 40 children and a transgender are also among the patients. Most of the patients who visit the centre receive counselling alongside the treatment. The Punjab AIDS Control Programme operates one treatment facility in South Punjab.

He stressed a need for a comprehensive policy to keep the people safe from the incurable disease. Dr Sumera urged the AIDS patients to remain in contact with treatment centres and not to conceal their ailment. “There is a need to promote awareness regarding preventive measures. We expect that the non-government organisations will also help us control the disease in Pakistan,” he hoped.