270,000 of these quacks are operating in Sindh province alone, where Larkana is located. Provincial health officials also
intimated that patients are at particular risk of contracting diseases or viruses at these clinics, where injections are often pushed as a primary treatment choice.
For the sake of saving money, these quacks inject multiple patients with a single syringe. This could be the main reason for the spread of HIV cases. A large number of unqualified doctors along with
the reuse of syringes, unsafe blood transfusions, and other unsafe medical practices have all led to the increase in HIV cases in recent years.
The prevalence of Sexual Transmitted Diseases (STDs) is alarmingly high in Pakistan, especially in male individuals. Low awareness about protection against this deadly disease in poor and middle-class
areas is increasing the number of incidents of STDs. These STDs are known to cause the sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS infection.
most at-risk populations for transmission of HIV/AIDS infection in Pakistan are people who inject drugs (PWID), transgender persons, males, and female sex workers with a rate of 27.2%, 5.2%, 1.6%, and 0.6% respectively. There is strong evidence that
new patterns of drug use and shifts to injecting, in particular, are important factors contributing to the rapid increase of HIV infection among drug users.
While HIV symptoms generally appear 2-3 months after the sexual intercourse with an infected individual, AIDS symptoms may take many years to appear.
According to the report by the Sustainable
Development Policy Institute (SPDI), more than 58.7 million people in Pakistan are living below
the poverty line. These individuals lack basic facilities such as healthcare and education due to low family incomes.
average Pakistani makes 1555 USD (compared to the world average of 17300 USD) a year that means the average income is approximately 129.5 USD per month. Due to socioeconomic constraints, individuals from the lower and middle class, lack basic knowledge
about physical health. They are either not aware of or cannot afford to buy contraceptives in order to prevent the transmission of any infections or diseases during sexual activity. Poverty and denial of education play a critical role in forcing women
into becoming sex workers, which leads to higher rates of STD transmission in Pakistan.
Conservative Attitude and Ethical
Pakistan is a very conservative country with regards to the discussion of one’s sexual activities or family
planning. Contraceptive commercials receive backlash from the country’s religious and conservative bodies calling such advertisements “Immoral” and against the religious norms of Islam. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has also banned any advertisements for condoms.
This conservative attitude of Pakistani authorities creates images in the minds of the public that protected sex and condom usage is a deviant act that is inappropriate to talk about. Experts say that the dramatic
increase of STDs in Pakistan is due to unprotected sex.
When considering HIV/AIDs from an ethical point of view, it is necessary
to recall the stigma, societal disapproval, and consent across cultures in response to this disease. This is more so important specifically in countries in which religion controls much of the influence. Pakistan, being a conservative country, has a population
of people who consider the topic of HIV/AIDs, sexual encounters, and safe sex to be a taboo.
While discussion of these topics
is at a minimum, Pakistan continues to have a growing HIV/AIDs epidemic. In many Islamic societies, HIV/AIDs is noted to be associated with homosexuality and promiscuity. However, it is essential to take note that HIV/AIDs can also arise from unhygienic
blood transfusions and unprotected sexual intercourse. A reason as to why the Pakistani population is majorly misinformed regarding the causes of the disease is lack of education.
Gender inequality is also a key reason for
the spread of HIV/AIDS in Pakistan. Women in Pakistan generally face discrimination due to their lower socioeconomic status, lesser mobility, and low decision-making power as compared to Pakistani men, which leaves them vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.
Due to gender inequality, the literacy rate for Pakistani women is only 45% compared to the literacy rate of 69% for Pakistani men.
Governmental Response to HIV/AIDS
A few years ago, there was a commercial by a leading condom producing company promoting
the use of condoms, the idea of protected sex, and the prospect of living better, healthier lives. Mere promotion of a contraceptive commercial stirred a significant controversy nationwide, and the PEMRA responded with banning the commercial immediately.
In 2001, the Pakistani government developed a National HIV/AIDS Strategic Framework that established strategies for effective control of this deadly disease.
In the following years, the government’s biggest challenge was implementing this strategic plan, establishing effective partnerships, networking with the donors and NGOs, and neutralizing the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS. At least 45
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were involved in the HIV/AIDS public awareness campaign. These NGOs supported and cared for patients living with HIV. They focussed on the population of sex workers in all four provinces of Pakistan.
Although these NGOs are actively still working for the HIV/AIDS control in Pakistan, they are not enough in numbers to control the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in a growing population of Pakistan.