LAHORE  -   The Punjab AIDS Control Programme (PACP), in partnership with the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA), Unicef organised a Candle Vigil at Food Street Badshahi Mosque on Thursday.

Advisor to Chief Minister on Health Hanif Khan Pitafi was the chief guest on the occasion. Director General Health Services  Punjab Dr Munir Ahmed and Programme Director Punjab AIDS Control Dr Asim Altaf attended the event with representatives from Unicef, WHO, Walled City Authority of Lahore, Vertical Programmes and officials of the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department.

Advieor to the Chief Minister on Health Hanif Khan Pitafi congratulated the organisers for putting together a colourful event on HIV/AIDS awareness. He said the government was fully focused on interventions for marginalised people.

“The programme is reaching out to jail population, bus and truck drivers as well as general population through multiple initiatives. I urge all to give care and support to the HIV patients,” Pitafi said.

DG Health Services Dr Munir Ahmed said that prevention was prime focus of the programme. The programme is taking measures to end stigma and discrimination towards HIV patients as well, he said.

Programme Director Dr Asim Altaf said, “Pakistan faces a concentrated epidemic as the disease is mostly prevalent among certain high-risk groups, though quackery has been identified as main source of its spread in general population.

“Keeping in view the nature of challenges, the PACP had devised special strategies. The PACP has set up Pakistan’s first-ever exclusive transgenders clinic at Fountain House and has initiated a special project for high risk groups in the walled city of Lahore,” he added.

Dr Asim further said that the World AIDS Day walks and seminars were held throughout Punjab and everywhere people gathered in big numbers to stand with the cause. He also thanked partners Unicef and WCLA for their support for the cause.

Later, Advisor to Chief Minister Hanif Khan Pitafi released balloons at the occasion. The candle vigil was followed by release of sky lanterns. The visitors at the Food Street enjoyed the light show where awareness documentaries were also played.