KARACHI

Chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi has said that poor understanding about AIDS among people is causing its spread in the country.  Registering his concern on Sunday about sharp increase of 32,000 HIV/ AIDS cases in the country during last two years, he regretted the denial about the disease among the countrymen, according to a statement issued here.

For a long time even the health policy makers remained under the impression that either HIV incidence are non-existent or too low, which led to a progressive increase in HIV cases.

Maulana Ashrafi said that in Pakistan's context it is not only the promiscuity but also infected blood transfusions and sharing of infected needles that contribute towards its spread, he said. Elaborating his stance, he said it was urgently needed to make people understand that the virus does not persist in our environs.

According to UNAIDS 2011 estimates, in Pakistan about 130,000 people were affected with AIDS.  The findings moved Pakistan up from "low prevalence - high risk" category to a "concentrated epidemic" and initiated campaigns and studies.  Over the time, the epidemic has spread from  urban centres to smaller cities and towns.

"I believe, we have to save our people through awareness campaigns and tell them that they could be protected and guarded well against AIDS and other such deadly diseases." said the scholar.

Hafiz Ashrafi reiterated that due to unawareness, sometimes people come across such accidents that let them fall prey to the deadly diseases and they lose their precious lives in the process.

HIV is not only transmitted through  promiscuity  with an HIV infected partner but also because of transfusion of HIV infected blood and sharing of unsterilised syringes or needles with HIV positive person; HIV infected mother to child during pregnancy and breast feeding.

According to UNAIDS last report, the highest level of percentage at 27.2 per cent is exhibited among  those who inject drugs with an average between 25 to 40 years - followed by transgender and male sex workers at 5.2% and 1.6%, respectively. While female sex workers exhibit the lowest prevalence of 0.6 per cent.