Islamabad [Pakistan], Jun 15 (ANI): Thirty-one of 2,500 persons were found to be HIV positive during a screening programme for the virus conducted in Pakistan's Sindh province, health officials said on Saturday.
The new cases in Sindh's Shikarpur district come after over 500 cases of HIV were reported in Ratodero district of Larkana last month, Geo News reported.
According to District Health Officer Shabbir Sheikh, 2,500 people were screened out of which 31 tested positive in Shikarpur.
He added that those who have been tested positive were being provided treatment and other amenities according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) regulations.
In May, an international team of experts from WHO arrived in Pakistan to probe the HIV outbreak in Larkana, Sindh at the request of the Health Ministry.
Those affected have urged the Sindh government to make HIV medicine made readily available at private medical stores apart from government hospitals for easy access.
Citizens have also asked the Sindh government to take adequate measures to counter the disease.
In total, 76.1 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV, since the epidemic started in the 1980s. According to official figures, some 35 million have died.
The doctors associated with the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) blamed 'quacks' or unqualified practitioners, illegal blood banks and laboratories for spreading the virus by using instruments that were not sterilized, Xinhua agency reported.
To tackle the challenge, the government has allocated an amount of Rs 1 billion for an endowment fund being set up for the welfare of the persons living with HIV/AIDS and Rs 500 million to treat blood diseases in the budget for the next financial year.
As of yet, there is no HIV vaccine or cure, and infected people rely on lifelong anti-retroviral therapy to stop the virus from replicating.
Without treatment, HIV-infected people go on to develop AIDS, a syndrome that weakens the immune system and leaves the body exposed to infections such as tuberculosis, and some types of cancer.
Treatment carries side-effects and is costly, but allows infected people to be healthier for longer. (ANI)