Break the Silence

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS doesn’t strike much of a chord with most of the people in Pakistan but AIDS is spreading at an alarming rate. According to a report from July 1, 2002 to September 30, 2002 there were only three cases registered in the Sindh province. Today, it is estimated that 85,000 people in Pakistan have HIV. In Karachi itself, 30% of IDUs (Intravenous Drug Users) are HIV positive.

Why is AIDS spreading?

Male and Female Sex workers,Drug Addicts, Used Syringes, and Blood Donors and shaving blades are one of the main causes for spread of the HIV virus.

A study by UNAID reports:

Meanwhile, in Karachi, Pakistan’s main trading city, one in five sex workers cannot recognize a condom, and three-quarters do not know that condoms prevent HIV (in fact, one third have never heard of AIDS). It is therefore little wonder that only 2% of female sex workers said they used condoms with all their clients in the previous week. In addition to the lack of knowledge and low use of condoms, there is a high degree of sexual interaction between drug injectors and sex workers. Over 20% of female sex workers in Karachi and Lahore had sold sex to injecting drug users and condom use was very low during those encounters.

Another research reveals the following:

The doctor noted there were around 100 blood banks in the city, but only 20 percent of them did the necessary screening, thereby becoming channels for the transmission of diseases. In fact, a large proportion of professional blood donors like Khan have never been tested for HIV/AIDS.

The ever increasing Hijra population is also both a victim and source of the disease:

Study showed that 91% reported exchange of sex for money. Average age of sex with consent was found 12 years and in 93% of cases they practiced receptive anal sex. 35% reported more than 5 sexual partners per day, while 19% reported more than 10 sexual partners per day.91% Hijras reported no condom use. 45% were found drug addicts and 1% injecting drug users. 60% of their clients are youth and 30% are migrant workers. more than 50% of their customers are married.

Specially vulnerable to the epidemic is the migrant population and the youth. Growing poverty, presence of sex stimulating literature, misuse of internet, program on cable TV, late marriages, unavailability of recreational activities have all lead the youth to satiating their sexual appetite through illegitimate ways. While the problem is not as widespread yet, such illicit behavior is rising. The migrant population become a threat to their families and children.

Dont be afraid to talk

Most of the subjects discussed above are still taboo in our society. Lack of awareness thus acts as an impetus in the proliferation of the virus. Parents need to talk to their children when they’ve reached adolescence so that the children are aware of the risks related to illicit sexual behavior.

Educating the poor is more important and you can help by talking to the people that work for you (e.g, maids, drivers) about HIV.

The disaster that AIDS can become can be witnessed in Sub Saharan Africa. In Pakistan, the incidence of the disease is still comparatively low but the challenge is to keep it in check before AIDS becomes a crisis.

December 1st is the World Aids Day.

Image credits: Aids on the streets of karachi

13 Comments so far

  1. MS (unregistered) on December 1st, 2007 @ 10:57 pm

    Apart from whatever has been written in this post and the mentioned article, I think one other reason of AIDS in Pakistan is expats.

    These guys enjoy the “fruits” of living out of Pakistan and bring back this disease with them to their wives …

    I think the government should make it mendatory for the “soon-to-be-married” couple to get an NOC from some recognized hospitals; the hospital should run couple of medical exams on those guys just to see if any or both of them have any disease that could infect the other. That would at-least reduce the spread of diseases like AIDS, Genetal Herpes, etc.

    Can anyone confirm if that’s the case in UK? I heard they require some kind of medical certificate before registering the marriage.

  2. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on December 1st, 2007 @ 11:00 pm


    I was waiting for someone to pick the tab and be the 1st one to say something on this subject. after it was posted at 1.30 PST,

    – –

    About Blood transfusion – no hospital accept donor blood without Hepatitis, HIV, test report. –

    HIV & STD goes parallel, Hepatitis is One step above it., as people tend to accept test of Hepatitis as NORMAL. Ask them for HIV / STD Test and they shy away and freak out. Since it is considered Taboo to discuss and talk about SEX education, we are all SHYING away from the THREAT, people tend to ignore it all together.

    TEETHO – be vocal about the class you treat who come to your place and tested +ive for AIDS.

    Why is that we suspect that only maids, drivers and domestic servants could be aids / HIV carriers., only because they are illiterate.

    I went to AKU some years back before my wedding, got myself tested for fertility and Hepatitus,VD, HIV.

    The lab attendent looked at me disgusting way, went to her supervisor he came close and asked are you sure you want these test, even at that time test was in 4 digit figure, and I said yes I want all the test done for myself.

    – – –

    Problem is with us we are scared of breaking the cocoon, for us others are important and we always think ‘Loug keya kahain gai’ with the social barriers we all have placed around us and the crux is we lack confidence to discuss Rectification if there is a problem.

    Even if we feel that we have been doing it wrong, and the condition could be result of it we shy out, we do not discuss and try to fix it. We are scared of social and family boycott, isolation from friends, family etc etc.

    The need of time is about being flexible to educate growing teenagers around us who are much capable at age of 12 then what my generation was unable to grasp at age of 17, we must be able to make juniors aware of STD / HIV, VD, & Hepatitus and spread it across the society.

    Sex without marriage, or cheating on your partner could be disaster to individuals and to the kin which come into being by wedlock.

    Say NO to SEX Without wedlock – Get yourself tested before wedlock, exchange views about dream NIGHT, discuss with your partner how much they are aware of sex, BUT BUT BUT stay away from sex without wedlock.

    Dump your partner walk away from your partner if expectation is what is NOT RIGHT without marriage.

  3. Virgin-Jack (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 1:52 am

    Dude i am still a “virgin”, i have never had sex, i am not married… there are many like me in my age bracket…

    so why would I go to AKU and get a HIV test??

  4. Virgin-Jack (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 1:57 am

    I should also ask the author to write an article to draw attention to all the people suffering from Zoophillia… THe details are below

  5. Mufakkir (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 7:16 am

    I agree with the main point, that is speaking out and not considering things taboo. Point is, this happens everywhere. I remember reading in some newspaper years ago that a US state governor moved for ending subsidy and insurance for AIDS affectees b/c they ‘had brought this upon themselves by their own sins’. (Means they also consider AIDS as something which only transfers through illicit sex. Nobody remembers drug use, reuse of syringes and non-sterile instruments in hospitals etc.) It seems like all of us are obsessed with sex. We see red when we see the word, and go mad and disremember and disregard everything else.

    But I still do not like the unnecessary attention being paid to AIDS. Yes the countries that have high infection rates can, and should, but why us? Last time I met my GP, he told me heart diseases are the greatest medical issue in Pakistan.

    Why don’t we see as much attention (TV time, newspaper spce, speech priority) given to heart diseases. Again, as Freud would say, man is obsessed by anything that is related to sex, and obviously AIDS is more related to sex than cardio-vascular problems.

  6. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 11:36 am


    HEPATITIS AIDS & HIV is TRANSMITTED by the carrier, later to become congenial and thats the point on this forum discussion, HOW TO STAY SAFE / AWAY from it.

    Seems like you are shying out from the subject.

    @Virgin – I’m sure conditions in Pakistan have not detriorated to levels of having sex with animal – refer to your link

    – –

    02 12 2007 PST 11.15AM On National Geographic Channel program is ON about AIDS / HIV, Sushmita Sen & Ashley Judd are the anchors.

    Ashley Judd is narrator to the subject as well.

    On the international doucmentary Indians accepted 52% of Indian population in age bracket of 22 – 35 is HIV Positive.

  7. virgin-jack (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 12:35 pm

    Well you never know… you should atleast “inform” the poor souls… should i suggest a brown ribbon or purple ribbon

    By the way, a boeing engineer “loved” full size stallions to the extent that they became the cause of his death… please do read and speak out against this people are ill informed

  8. mansoor (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 12:48 pm

    jamal bhai: bravo! i’m with the view that health is more important that some stupid taboo on the society.

  9. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 3:30 pm

    And we discovered a civilized and legal term “Sex Workers” for illegal business. Welcome to civilized world. NO wonder in future some “XYZ BAI” of red area is honored with some Internationally Acclaimed award for “serving” the nation.

  10. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

    WE accept that term “sex worker” and we are among those who challange the Shariah from Quran and Sunnah from Hadith – Term is for sure devised by OPEN MINDED LIBERAL MODERATE Class. Then we shall accept the term Zana, Zania and Zani.

    Zina for act, lady sex worker as zania and Zani for Male part of the act.

    Let us not drift from the topic for terminologies, stay focused on spreading awareness for all those who are inept to understand the consequences.

  11. ShahidnUSA (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 8:42 pm

    Insecurity, fear and jealousy will not get you anywhere.

    People with crazy sex drive and junk (drugs) habits will always be there.

    Throwing them in jail and torturing them will not make the problem (promiscuity) go away. (sweeping under the carpet).

    Bringing it(taboo subjects) out in open and talk about it (not ridiculing) will help and educate (about consequences).

  12. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on December 3rd, 2007 @ 3:28 pm

    i am ON TOPIC shamsi. It’s all about how do we start something “unusual” as norm.

  13. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on December 3rd, 2007 @ 4:03 pm

    @Adnan – very true – agreed

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