In the 40 years since HIV/AIDS emerged as a global health crisis, HIV/AIDS continues to affect millions of people around the world. Despite incredible advances in medical care and treatment, there are still an estimated 36.9 million people living with HIV in 2017, 1.8 million of them children. HIV/AIDS affects not only individuals, but also their families, communities, and countries. Low and middle-income countries bear the largest burden in the current HIV/AIDS epidemic. These countries often have limited resources to test and treat people living with HIV and lack the infrastructure or financial means to build additional resources.
The current HIV/AIDS outbreak in Sindh, Pakistan is one example of this issue. Of the 150,000 people living with HIV in Pakistan, over half live in Sindh. In the past month (April 2019), over 600 people have tested positive for HIV in Sindh, nearly 500 of these children and 90 pregnant women. These new diagnoses are stretching the already limited HIV treatment options. Additionally, without help to identify and eliminate the unsafe medical practices that caused the current outbreak, future outbreaks are likely to occur. Efforts to train physicians to treat HIV, increase access to HIV testing and treatment, and improve the sanitation of medical practices are critical.
The Providence/Boston Center for AIDS Research in collaboration with the Jinnah Sindh Medical University Alumni Association of North American (JSMUAANA), the Jinnah Sindh Medical University (JSMU), and the APPNA Institute of Public Health (AIPH) have developed the HIV/AIDS Communications Project Part I: HIV in Sindh, Pakistan. This project aims to teach and train healthcare providers on HIV disease to reduce stigma and increase awareness about HIV, and develop HIV treatment protocols given the limited resources available in Pakistan.