Conference on AIDS at Veterinary University Lahore

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LAHORE:The third national conference on HIV/AIDS was organised by the Pakistan Medical Society in collaboration with Directorate General Health Service, Punjab, at the UVAS auditorium.

Addressing the conference, University of Veterinary & Animal Science Lahore Vice Chancellor Prof Muhammad Nawaz said, “The day provides opportunities for spreading awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in high prevalence countries.”

Prof Muhammad Nawaz said according to 2008 figures released by World Health Organization (WHO), presently 33.4 million people were living with HIV.

An estimated 2.7 million were newly infected with the virus and 2 million died of AIDS the same year, he said.

He said we must ask teachers and students all over the world to spend “One Hour on AIDS”.

Pakistan Medical Society Chairman Dr Masood Akhtar Sheikh said WHO recommended earlier initiation of antiretroviral therapy for adults and adolescents. He said WHO also recommended availability of more patient-friendly antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), and prolonged use of ARVs to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

For the first time, WHO recommends that HIV-positive mothers or their infants take ARVs while breastfeeding to prevent HIV transmission.

Dr Masood Sheikh added that the immune system became weaker as the infection progressed and the infected got more susceptible to infections.

The most advanced stage of HIV infection is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). It can take 10-15 years for an HIV-infected person to develop AIDS. Antiretroviral drugs can slow down the process even further.

He said that HIV was transmitted through unprotected sexual activity, transfusion of contaminated blood, sharing of contaminated needles and from a mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Right now, there is no cure or vaccination for HIV.