In the last few years, Pakistan has been facing a continuous upward trend in Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) cases,but knowledge about this disease is almost non-existent throughout the country. Recent statistics suggest that more than 130,000 HIV positive people in Pakistan are unaware of their HIV status1 and may be unintentionally spreading HIV, and its lifelong treatment implications, to others.
HIV belongs to a group of viruses called ‘retroviruses.’ Itspreads through certain body fluids (including blood, genital fluids, and breast milk) and attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells (T cells). This damage to the immune system makes it increasingly harder for the body to fight infections and other diseases. Untreated HIVcan lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). A person with AIDS has very high levels of the virus in their blood, is at greater risks of other opportunistic infections, and can transmit the disease to others. Therefore, it is very important for HIV+ patients to start lifelong treatment, known as Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), to keep the HIV virus suppressed. Due to recent medicaladvancements in ART and improved access to healthcare, HIVpatients rarelydevelop AIDS once they are on HIV medications