AIDS death toll rises in Pakistan

The United Nations AIDS Control Program (UNAIDS) has said that the number of AIDS-related deaths in Pakistan is on the rise as poor diagnosis and poor treatment conditions miss out on opportunities to prevent deaths and further spread.

According to the media reports, the Global AIDS Update 2020 published on Tuesday, UNAIDS says that HIV infection has decreased in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, but increased in Pakistan and the Philippines.

The growing number of new infections among men who have sex with men is a major concern, the report said.

Studies reveal that AIDS is caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that infects cells of the human immune system, destroying or impairing their function. AIDS is also called “Slim Disease”. The symptoms of HIV vary depending on the stage of the infection. Though people living with HIV tend to be most infectious in the first few months, many are unaware of their status until later stages.

In the early stages of infection, the person has no symptoms. However, as the infection progresses, the immune system becomes weaker, and the individual can develop other signs and symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, diarrhoea and the more susceptible to so-called opportunistic infections like TB, neurological disorders and unusual cancers.

Diagnosis of HIV/AIDS is made on the symptoms, signs and blood tests. If someone has had a recent possible HIV exposure, retesting should be done after 6 weeks to confirm test results. HIV testing should be voluntary.

Testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections is strongly advised for all people exposed to any of the risk factors so that they can learn of their own infection status and access necessary prevention and treatment services without delay.

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