The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is considering legislation to make it binding on all people to undergo HIV/Aids test.
“The government will go for the legislation after which all people will be legally bound to undergo HIV/Aids screening. We have already made pre-marriage test of Thalassemia compulsory for the would-be couples,” said provincial minister for higher education Qazi Mohammad Asad on Wednesday.
Speaking as chief guest at a function held in connection with the World Aids Day at the Frontier Women’s College, the minister said that the legislation concerning compulsory screening before marriage was gaining social acceptability and with the passage of time more and more people would opt for such tests.
“Awareness is a shield against the deadly disease of HIV/Aids. We have to keep an eye on the immigrant workers who are being deported on account of having the disease,” he said and added that such people were the main cause of HIV/Aids spread in the country.
Mr Asad expressed his concern over the stoppage of funds for the HIV/Aids programme and said that it would further complicate the situation.
He expressed optimism that the government would provide funds to keep the programme activities going. He urged the students to get more information about the causative agents of the disease. On this occasion, the college students presented skits to highlight bad effects of the disease and ways to avoid it.
The minister said that the deported men were infecting their wives, who didn’t know about their health status.
“The only way to stem the tide of HIV/Aids is to put all those returning from abroad to compulsory screening at the airports. He said that though people hesitate to be subjected to HIV screening, there was no other way to stop the transmission of the disease.
Another function concerning HIV/Aids awareness was held at the Badhber camp where experts advised Afghan refugees to keep themselves limited to their wives.
“Afghan refugees living here frequently cross the border to their country due to which they are at the razor edge of the infections disease,” Dr Jawad Habib Khan of the Project Directorate of Health for Afghan told the audience.He also said that re-use of syringes, transfusion of unscreened blood and shaving at the barbers’ shops should be avoided to stay safe from the pandemic.
“There is an urgent need to tell people about the transmission of the disease, otherwise the HIV/Aids could snowball into major health problem in the country,” he said.Later a awareness walk was also held which passed through the Afghan refugee camp.
All Women Advancement and Resource Development, a local NGO, organised a camp near the Khyber Teaching Hospital where HIV/Aids-related literature was distributed among visitors. Maimoona Noor, head of the NGO, asked the government to provide free test facilities, including CD-4 and viral load because poor patients could not afford cost of the investigation.
She said that creating awareness of the disease through dissemination of information was the right and favourable way to step the disease.