LAHORE – The 3-day intra-provincial workshop ‘Prevention-of-Parent-to-Child-Transmission (PPTCT) of HIV/AIDS’ organized by the Punjab AIDS Control Programme with the support of UNICEF, UNAIDS and WHO concluded on Thursday.

The objective of the workshop was to build capacity of healthcare providers in selected districts to identity families at increased risk of HIV, provide them ‘Voluntary, Confidential, Counselling and Testing’ (VCCT) facilities for HIV and link them with HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services, including PPTCT, which are available free of cost at identified hospitals across Pakistan. The managers of Provincial AIDS Control Programmes of Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and National AIDS Control Programme have participated in the workshop. Health Special Secretary Babar Hayat Tarrar and Health Services Punjab Director General Dr. Nisar Ahmed Cheema attended the concluding session. Dr. Nisar Ahmed Cheema addressing the concluding session said that prevention and precautionary measures was the only way to protect ourselves from HIV/AIDS.

He added that one could save himself from this menace by following the teachings of Islam. He said that the training concluded with the following recommendations: Given the concentrated profile of HIV epidemic in Pakistan, targeted district model approach would be followed in all provinces to identity people living with HIV and provide them the essential prevention, treatment, care and support services, including PPTCT.

Three step approach for implementation of district model would be followed, including training of DHQ hospital staff on HIV/PPTCT, orientation of Lady Health Workers (LHWS) to identify at risk population for HIV, organization of Family Health Days (FHD) for appropriate identification and referral.

While, WHO guidelines of three antibody tests (using three different principles) would be followed to confirm HIV status of individuals, besides WHO guidelines for exclusive breast feeding to infants of HIV positive mothers would be promoted.