KP Govt to establish seven HIV screening and treatment centers across the province

Resolution Moved in KP Assembly Calling for Better Health Facilities for Transgender Community.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa part of Pakistan is at alarming situation having an increasing ratio of  People Living with HIV (PLHIV) AIDS. In this context, Blue Veins-a non government organisation in collaboration with TransAction has organized multi stakeholder consultation today at peshawar press club to review the HIV/Aids Screening, Counseling and Service Centers for Transgender Community in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. People from various walks of life including transgender activists, health professionals, policy makers,NGOs, Lawyers, students, teachers and religious leader participated in the consultation.

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The participants highlighted that  transgender people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa experience high levels of stigma, discrimination, gender-based violence and abuse, marginalization and social exclusion. This makes them less likely or able to access services, damages their health and wellbeing, and puts them at higher risk of HIV. According to the statistics from National AIDS Control Program which estimates that HIV epidemic is primarily concentrating among the two key populations i.e. people Who Inject Drugs with 27.2% followed by Transgender Sex Worker with 5.2% who are making up the second largest group suffering from HIV. In response to these overwhelming statistics and the vulnerability of transgender community, HIV needs of transgender community of KP should be taken care of and discussed candidly. They should have access to free screening, counseling and medication services.

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Farzana Jan president of the TransAction Alliance said  “While lack of awareness and commercial considerations keeps transgender community away from testing and revealing their HIV/AIDS status, accessing HIV health care remained another challenge. KP has two HIV treatment centers for a population of approximately 29.9 million populations, with an estimated 16,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. Around 2,600 patients are registered at the two treatment centers in Peshawar and Kohat. Therefore, the services being provided under these two centers were not enough to meet the requirements of the entire population”.

The province has registered a total of 2,750 Aids patients but World Health Organization says the number can be over 12,000 as people avoid being tested because of the stigma associated with the disease. According to Dr. Ayub Roze Director General Health KP “HIV is an enormous development issue and a potential health crisis. It poses a serious threat to achievements so far gained in reducing poverty and is, therefore, an obstacle to the realization of national goals. With an estimated prevalence rate of less than 0.1%, Pakistan continues to have a low-level HIV epidemic among the general population however, serial surveillance results indicate that concentrated epidemics have already established among key populations”

Qamar Naseem program Coordinator Blue Veins Said “The transgender community is particularly vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. Therefore proper precautionary measures are required to be taken to address this issue, enabling the members of transgender community to remain safe from this disease”

The civil society support group highly appreciated  the KP Govt announcement to establish seven centers   in seven district of KP including Malakand , Mardan, Abootabad, Kohat , Bannue, D.I.Khan, and Peshawar along with establishing a second family care center for HIV/Aids patient in Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar which will make HIV screening , treatment and councilling easy  for transgender community . Statistics available with the KP Aids Control Program show that 485 cases of HIV/Aids were reported in FATA of f these, 33 cases were reported in Bajaur Agency, 87 from Khyber Agency, 98 from Kurram Agency, 218 cases from Bannu, 34 from Mohmand Agency, 28 from Orakzai Agency, 72 from South Waziristan and 133 from North Waziristan.

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Mufti Jamel a religious leader said “Overlapping social, cultural, legal and economic factors contribute to pushing transgender people to society’s margins. Transgender people are more likely to drop out of education and have move away from family and friends, and face discrimination, limiting their educational and economic opportunities. They encounter problems accessing basic goods and services and even public spaces”

Gul Haider of Youth Gleam Organization providing free HIV screening services said “Transgender people often face social and legal exclusion, economic vulnerability, and are at an increased risk of experiencing violence. Disempowerment and low self-esteem make transgender women, in particular, less likely or less able, to negotiate condom use”

Taimur Kamal coordinator of Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network said “HIV-related stigma and Trans phobia create barriers to the access of HIV testing and treatment services by transgender people. More targeted prevention approaches are needed in combination with increased welfare and employment opportunities to address the specific needs of transgender people”.

Also Member of the National Task force and member of provincial Assembly Nighat Yasmeen Orakzai has moved a resolution in KP assembly which Says “HIV/AIDs are one of the major health concern among Transgender community in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Their immediate HIV risk is related primarily to sexual behaviors, especially unprotected anal sex with an HIV positive partner, but other structural factors transgender also makes Trans community vulnerable to HIV but unfortunately, no major steps have been taken by the provincial assembly to deal with this situation.  Govt should ensure  that these services are available to transgender community without facing any stigma, violence and abuse. This should also be made part of the Provincial Transgender protection policy.”

 

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