“HIV spread through blood transfusion, needle sharing…” he replied!

UNODC united in the fight against HIV on the World AIDS Day - 2022

1 December 2022, Islamabad - While addressing the audience on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2022 on 1st December in the District Malir Prison Karachi, the Advisor Drug Demand Reduction, HIV/AIDS Dr. Manzoor ul Haq engaged with them in Urdu (national language) and asked, “do you know anything about AIDS? how it is spread, and if yes, then how did you know??  A young inmate stood up and said, YES, “through blood transfusion and needle sharing and that this awareness was provided to them by the team of  doctors working in the prison”. This was indeed a triumph moment for UNODC at the event. 

The theme selected for 2022 WAD is  EQUALIZE which addresses the inequalities which perpetuate the AIDS pandemic are holding back the progress in ending AIDS.  It is a call for action to increase availability, quality and suitability of services, for HIV treatment, testing and prevention, reform laws, policies and practices to tackle the stigma so that everyone is well-served.  

In commemoration of the World AIDS Day, on 1st and 2nd December, UNODC Country Office Pakistan, in collaboration with UNAIDS, the Provincial Prison and Health Departments of Punjab and Sindh organized multiple activities  at Federal and Provincial levels  to create HIV AIDS awareness. 

In Sindh the highlight of the event was the joining of UNODC Pakistan’s National Goodwill Ambassador Shehzad Roy, who also participated in the musical concert arranged by the prison. 

Mr Roy spoke about the global and national figures on HIV and AIDS with respect to prisoners and also expressed his admiration for prison department, health department and partners for providing good quality health care and welfare support to the prisoners. He informed that as the UNODC Goodwill Ambassador he has been advocating and supporting drugs and HIV prevention treatment related strategies and interventions in the country and assured that he will continue to support all efforts for HIV to strengthen and expand the health services in prisons.

On the occasion Mr. Arslan Malik, the Head of UNODC Sub Office Karachi congratulated Mr. Kazi Nazir Ahmed, IG Prisons Sindh, for his leadership in commemorating the World AIDS Day in District Malir prison and also in other prisons of Sindh. He affirmed UNODC Pakistan commitment in providing technical assistance to the provincial prisons department in all provinces, building the capacity of the provincial prison and health staff and for strengthening coordination between prison department and provincial health department in provision of quality health care services for prisoners.

The guests were also given a tour of the facility in the prison along with UNODC staff and other counterparts and the art gallery where paintings illustrated by prisoners were displayed.

Simultaneously, in the Federal Capital Islamabad an event was organised by the the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination in collaboration with UNAIDS, UNODC and other UN partners.  Federal Minister for Health Abdul Qadir Patel graced the event as Chief Guest. Ms. Jouhaida Hanano Advisor for UNODC Criminal Justice and Legal Reforms, in her speech urged all to join hands to address the inequalities which are impeding the progress in ending AIDS. The progress is stalling because HIV prevention, testing and treatment services have limited availability, there is a crucial need to increase availability of HIV prevention, testing and treatment services without stigma.

The event also included stalls and exhibitions, where UNODC exhibited paintings made by the prisoners from Sindh province. The income from the sale of these painting will be sent to prisoners which they further send back to their families. 

On 2nd December the Punjab Prisons Department hosted a seminar in the District Prison Lahore and at the same time HIV prevention related activities including awareness sessions on HIV and AIDS, musical events, sports activities, painting and singing competition were also organized in various prisons of the province to create awareness among prisoners and prison staff

At the Seminar, Inspector General Prisons Mr. Malik Mubashar Ahmed Khan, and Advisor to Chief Minister Ms. Samina Khawar Hayat highlighted the importance of the World AIDS Day theme ‘EQUALIZE” and stressed upon the need for joint efforts in the fight against spread of HIV. Ms. Hayat,  encouraged the prison department to continue the HIV awareness and prevention activities in all prisons and called for collective action for HIV prevention to address the inequalities that are causing hinderance to the control of HIV.

UNODC provided banners and standees with HIV prevention messages to the prisons in Punjab and Sindh provinces. These banners and standees were displayed at the World AIDS Day related activities organized in many prisons in the two provinces.