Pakistan’s President affirms commitment to increase HIV efforts
30 April 2014
Mamnoon Hussain, the President of Pakistan, affirmed his commitment to continue and increase efforts to respond to HIV in the country. During a meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, Prasada Rao, and the Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific, Steven Kraus, the President also emphasized that with effective support systems in place, HIV can be manageable, treatable and preventable.
The United Nations delegation visited Pakistan from 22 to 26 April to examine the challenges and opportunities for the HIV response in the country, where the epidemic has been expanding during the past decade.
Between 2001 and 2012 Pakistan saw an eight-fold increase in new HIV infections. In 2012, there were an estimated 87 000 people living with HIV. Like most countries in Asia and the Pacific, HIV prevalence is concentrated among key populations at higher risk, including people who use drugs, people who buy and sell sex, men who have sex with men and transgender people.
The Special Envoy and Mr Kraus underlined the importance of ensuring quality and regularly updated data to help better understand and track the progress of the epidemic and current response. Rapid expansion of HIV testing, an increase in HIV prevention programmes, including opioid substitution therapy, and city-based approaches were also highlighted as important for the ongoing AIDS response. Rapid scale up of programmes to prevent new HIV infections among children was urged by the delegation.
The President welcomed collaboration with and support from UNAIDS and the wider United Nations system to help further advance efforts in Pakistan, particularly in the areas of raising awareness among key populations at higher risk and in the elimination of stigma and discrimination.
"We can assure you on the Government of Pakistan’s commitment to eradicate this issue and we will also look at other countries in the region to learn from each other and replicate the best practices in Pakistan. I assure you of a positive change in the coming years in Pakistan to deal with the HIV/AIDS issue."
"90% of HIV cases exist in 10–12 major cities of Pakistan. The country must develop strong city-focused health programmes in order to achieve global targets and commitments on HIV. Robust efforts should also be made to scale up HIV testing services. Pakistan is entering a new development cycle and new initiatives can save lives."
"The United Nations and partners are fully committed to working hand in hand to further develop the response in Pakistan. Working across sectors, and together with communities and civil society, we can move closer towards the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic in Pakistan."
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