LAHORE   -   The Punjab Health Department has contradicted a report appeared in a section of press on HIV/AIDS cases in five districts of province.

“The AIDS Control Programme under the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department is aimed at keeping the HIV/AIDS at the current low level (below 0.1 percent),” Health Department spokesperson Syed Hammad Raza Bukhari said in a handout on Friday.

Under the programme from 2016 to 2019, the official said multiple initiatives were taken to reach out to the high risk groups.

He continued: “A total of 35,639 bus and truck drivers were tested for HBV, HCV, syphilis and HIV/AIDS at camps in 20 strategic sites across the province. During 2017-2019, more than 85,314 inmates were tested. “A total of 42,572 transgender people, 24,373 sex workers and their families underwent tests.

“During the Health Week in 2017, 236,246 people were tested for HIV and 200 people (less than 0.1% people) are being provided treatment. Similarly in February 2018, 667,424 people were screened and 350 tested positive (less than 0.1%). They all were provided with treatment. Backed by Shaukat Khanam Memorial Hospital and Research Centre, 16 treatment centres have been set up.”

He said as of May 2019 a total number of 8,308 patients were on regular treatment. “Clinical psychologists are available at all treatment centres to provide socio-psychological support to patients and their families while a state-of-the-art BSL-3 Level Advances Diagnostics Laboratory was set up.”  He also listed 11 Voluntary Counseling Confidential Testing Centers working and 4 PPTCT (Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission Centres).

Pakistan’s first ever exclusive trans-genders clinic was set up at Fountain House while a special project was launched in red light areas in collaboration with the Walled City Authority of Lahore and Akhuwat Foundation.

The spokesperson cited new initiatives including crackdown on quacks, awareness campaigns, screening camps.