LAHORE  - Like other parts of the globe, World AIDS Day was observed across the country on Sunday for raising awareness about AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and necessary precautionary measures to avoid the deadly disease. Seminars, workshops and walks were arranged both at the government and private levels to mark the event. 

The World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 every year to renew the commitment to reduce HIV infection among children and adults. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007, and an estimated 33.2 million people worldwide live with HIV as of 2007, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history.

The theme of the World Aids Day this year, "Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation."

Despite recent, improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 2 million lives in 2007, of which about 270,000 were children. After that, new infection is decreasing gradually due to increased awareness about the precautionary measures. Deaths have also decreased considerably due to access of HIV positive patients to the treatment facilities.

New HIV infections among adults and children were estimated at 2.3 million in 2012‚ a 33 per cent reduction since 2001. New HIV infections among children have been reduced to 260,000 in 2012‚ a reduction of 52 per cent since 2001.

AIDS-related deaths have also dropped by 30 per cent since the peak in 2005 as access to antiretroviral treatment expands.

In Lahore, Punjab Aids Control Programme arranged a media sensitisation workshop at a local hotel to mark the day.

Addressing the media consultative seminar, Director General Health Punjab Dr Zahid Pervaiz said that the government has allocated Rs 1.5 billion for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Director Punjab AIDS Control Programme Dr Salman Shahid, AIDS Control Officer of UNICEF Dr Nasir Sarfraz and representatives of social organizations were also present.

Dr Zahid Pervaiz said that the government was spending Rs one lakh annually on each AIDS patient. He said that Punjab Chief Minister was laying great emphasis on prevention of diseases for decreasing load on hospitals and setting up a healthy society.

Dr Salman Shahid said that the government was providing all funds to Punjab AIDS Control Programme since 2010. He said that the ratio of HIV patients among the people was 0.1 percent in Punjab, 38 percent among addicts who inject drugs through syringes, 2.8 percent in transgender and 0.3 percent in female sex workers. He said that Punjab AIDS Control Programme was providing diagnostic and treatment facilities through its nine consultative test centers, 13 diagnostic centers and nine treatment centers. He said that all medicines for treatment of AIDS were being provided free of cost by the Punjab government and these medicines were not available in the market. Dr Nasir Sarfraz said that there was a growing awareness about the seriousness of this issue in the society and people were getting inclined towards HIV tests. He said that all HIV positive patients were not necessarily AIDS patients.

The media-men gave proposals for controlling AIDS and change of attitude towards AIDS patients in the society. It was proposed that AIDS test before marriage be made compulsory and legislation be carried out for this purpose.