Scaling up HIV prevention in Pakistan
March 16, 2023
An old proverb says that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is certainly the case for the HIV epidemic. Currently, Pakistan holds the grim title of being one of the only countries in the world still seeing a rapid rise in new HIV infections. And while new infections continue to increase, people are not being linked to the free lifesaving treatment available in Pakistan, because often they are not even aware that they are HIV positive. In 2021, of the estimated 200,000 people living with HIV in Pakistan, only approximately 45,000 or less than 25% of them knew their HIV status. Preventing HIV in Pakistan will only be successful when communities most at-risk to HIV know how to prevent the virus and have the tools to protect themselves.
Working closely with government and technical partners, UNDP has launched a large scale-up of community-based prevention programmes, that were started in 2018, through support by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. This scale-up will mean that in 2023, more than 1,001,796 people will be reached with prevention programmes in 19 cities and towns.
In total, 16 community-based organizations and NGOs will be delivering the HIV prevention programme this year. Outreach workers, medics, and counsellors will work in communities and drop-in centres to distribute prevention commodities, deliver HIV testing services, raise awareness and education on how to prevent HIV, and provide medical care for treatment of secondary and sexually transmitted infections. Importantly, these CBOs will also connect people who test positive to life saving treatment services at government run treatment centres. The CBOs will even provide the costs to individuals for the transport and the baseline laboratory tests required to start treatment.
The easier it is for people to reach and understand the HIV prevention services and tools, more the chances that Pakistan can turn the tide on rising infections. UNDP is proud to stand with communities and our partners to support quality HIV prevention services at scale in Pakistan.