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HIV/AIDS Cases On The Rise In Shahkot Tehsil: Report

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LAHORE: A law enforcement agency has said in its report submitted to the Punjab government that HIV/AIDS was fast becoming an epidemic in Shahkot tehsil of Nankana Sahib district.

Recently, the agency sent its report to the Punjab chief minister in which it said that the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Shahkot has climbed to 140 after an additional 85 people tested positive for the deadly virus in the ongoing year.

“A survey conducted by the field staff of this agency has revealed that HIV virus (AIDS) is quickly spreading in Shahkot area of Nankana Sahib district,” reads the report.

According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, HIV/AIDS is counted among one of the most serious public health challenges around the globe.

In its report submitted with the Punjab government, the agency pointed towards the helplessness of the district authorities to cater to the health needs of a large portion of the population, including AIDS patients, due to lack of facilities.

The agency also stressed that a comprehensive province-wide survey should be undertaken to assess the situation, while adding that the virus was spreading fast and they feared that some cases were also going unreported which could put the health of other people at risk.

Out of the total 140 cases reported in Shahkot, which has a population of around 200,000 people, at least 54 cases were reported from September 1 to December 31, 2018. In addition, around 85 new HIV cases emerged in the area from January 1 to July 27 in the ongoing year.

Further, the report mentioned that 56 women and a seven-year-old child were among the people infected with the virus in Shahkot. A large number of patients were concentrated in localities lying adjacent to Darbar Baba Nau Lakh Hazari, the report added.

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Commenting on the spread of the disease, the report stated that 399 people have undergone screening tests at a health camp arranged by the district health authorities on July 24 to assess the overall health status of Shahkot residents. Out of these, around 11 people, including seven women, tested for the HIV virus.

Highlighting the reasons behind the rapid spread of the virus in the above-mentioned area, the report further said that, “The HIV virus is on the verge of becoming an epidemic due to unchecked use of narcotics, easy access to brothel houses, immoral activities being carried out by transgender persons, use of non-sterilised equipment by health practitioners, including quacks, and reuse of shaving razors by barbers.”

While giving recommendations, the report said that in the absence of medical facilities in the Shahkot THQ Hospital to treat a growing number of HIV patients, it was important to divert human and material resources towards the hospital to help it build its capacity to cope with the situation in a better way.

The report further recommended that the local administration and health department should be directed to check quacks and clamp down on illegal/unauthorised elements operating in the area to control the spread of the deadly virus.

The agency feared that the situation might be dire in other areas of the province as well, which could put the lives of a large number of people at risk if the spread of HIV is left unchecked.

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