Healthcare Situation for people living with HIV-AIDS in Pakistan
April 14, 2020
There is constant increase in new cases of HIV in Pakistan. The most of the new cases of HIV in Pakistan are of young people. That is why according to UNAIDS Pakistan is the 2nd in world with increase in new cases of HIV. Young People are more vulnerable to getting HIV due to lack of comprehensive se education. The young people during their adolescents are indulged into sexual activities having no previous background knowledge from both of their schools, home and other reliable resources. Sexual reproductive health and rights are considered taboo in Pakistan and not discussed in families. Even a young person cases to know about safe sex practices they usually are unable to follow these. As they are stigmatized if found with contraceptives or condoms. It is thought to be shameful. Young population can not keep condoms along with them in front of families and friends. A large young population is unaware of their HIV status. The one that get tested for HIV usually hide their status due to stigma associated of being involved in ex working.
It is even more difficult of young people living with HIV to tell about their status to their families, friends and close ones. The young PLHIV community has t face discrimination even from start which force them to either go into denial or to hide their status. In many cases the health services providing organizations and staff discriminate them based n their status, gender and sexual orientation. Many young PLHIV community members have reported that this discrimination of different levels from hospital staff or ART clinics. These treatment just not only includes scolding the patient but also not properly treating the patient. However these issues of discrimination from hospital staff is different from districts to districts. Some young PLHHIV community have expressed that they found their hospital staff at ART clinics very good and supportive e to them.
About their HIV status very small number of Young PLHIV community share their status to their family members and friends. Mostly don’t share because of the fear of discrimination from friends and relatives. Similarly Young PLHIV community don’t shares about their status at their workplace with fear of being discrimination and expulsion from workplace.
The health care facilities in Pakistan are already under pressure. There are large number of patients waiting to b treated in government hospitals. As it is also difficult for general public to get proper health care facilities on time. In this environment it becomes more difficult for Young PLHIV community to get proper health care facilities on time. Government agencies including National AIDS Control Program and Provincial AIDS control program has very few hospitals across country that can provide Anti-retroviral treatment and medicines. So young PLHIV community in many cases have to travel for hour to get their medicines and treatment in case of even emergency. There are long ques of patients in which Young PLHIIV community have to wait along with other patients for their treatment and checkups.
Apart from these ART clinics lack resources required for effective treatment of PLHIV community. Facilities for vital tests of PLHIV such as viral load test and CD4 cell count facilities are only available only in national capital and provincial capitals. Unavailability of these test facilities in their current hospitals or ART clinic delays the treatment as there are delays in sending blood samples and getting reports back to the ART center away from capital cities. These delays can be for many weeks. In terms of availability of medicines Young PLHIV community is mostly satisfied. However there are still some cases in which patients have to travel long distances to get their medicines but unable to get their medicines due to unavailability or closure of ART clinic. Lack of hospital staff assigned for PLHIV community and limited timings of ART clinics is another big constrains in getting effective anti-retroviral treatment. Most of the ART clinics have only one doctor and limited opening time of 8 hours of clinic. In the case of absence or leave of that one doctor patients have to suffer. Similarly young PLHIV community can not visit ART clinics after working hours time even in emergency cases as there is no one to serve medicines or to treat young PLHIV community after that time. Many young PLHIV community have also highlighted the lack of training and counseling services regarding safe health practices by government counselors and even discrimination when getting services from government counselors at ART clinics.
There isn’t any helpline at government level for young PLHIV community to get guide lines and queries out of hospital working hours.