The evil clutches of the AIDS and HIV virus have found its way in the Nankana Sahib region of Punjab. According to a report by the law enforcement agency to the Punjab government, the rapid spread of HIV and AIDS amongst communities in Shahkot, a tehsil of Nankana Sahib district, is so high that the situation is on verge of being an epidemic.

According to the report prepared, this year, 85 more people have tested positive for the virus, making the total number of victims to 140, which in the small hill park town of Shahkot, is an alarming statistic. The situation is more distressing considering that district authorities have admitted that they do not have the required facilities to accommodate the health needs of the people affected, nor are there resources to test any more people. The report of the law enforcement agencies has recommended that human and financial resources and equipment should be provided to available hospitals in Shahkot to build its capacity to temporarily cope with the outbreak of the virus.

Earlier, it was reported that regions of Sindh have also seen an infestation of this virus, with the Director Sindh AIDS Control Programme stating that there had been nearly 1000 AIDS cases in the province alone. Now signs of an epidemic have started to hit Punjab as well, showing that the provincial and federal governments did not effectively tackle either prevention or cure of the earlier outbreak in Sindh.

Before this virus strays out of Shahkot district and spreads to other part of the country, the government must divert funds and attention towards its prevention. There is no time for shying away from acknowledging the epidemic. Without any cultural or social taboos, the government must devise a practical and safe approach towards limiting unsafe sexual practices and work to cause awareness of AIDS prevention, particularly among sex workers.