1. Home
  2. Asia
  3. Pakistan
  • News

HIV programmes face funding crunch

In conservative Pakistan, women who are HIV postive - fearful of being socially ostracized - often suffer in silence. According to UNAIDS, almost 40 percent of new HIV cases are among women.
(Zofeen Ebrahim/IRIN)

Pakistan's efforts to combat AIDS face an uncertain future as funding for a major HIV/AIDS prevention and care project comes to an end this month.

The Pakistan HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care Project (PHAPCP), funded by USAID, was launched in February 2006 by the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) and implemented by Family Health International (FHI) in partnership with local non-governmental organizations in seven cities - Rawalpindi, Multan, Larkana, Lahore, Karachi, Turbat and Peshawar.

Pakistan has about 5,000 reported cases of HIV, according to government figures and although UNAIDS puts the actual number at about 96,000 it is still considered a low-prevalence country.

PHAPCP was part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus before it became rooted in the general population. It reached about 40,500 people considered at high risk of infection with prevention messages, provided diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to 1,800 people, and voluntary counselling and HIV testing to another 10,000.

Dr Naseer Nizamani, FHI's country director, told IRIN/PlusNews that PHAPCP had completed its three-year duration and activities would be discontinued "for a while", but "We are very hopeful that in the near future things will get back on track."

Shah Abdul Lateef Bhittai Welfare Society (SALBWS), an NGO targeting transgender people and men who have sex with men (MSM), is looking for other donors that will allow them to continue their HIV awareness activities. "Somehow, we cannot think of wrapping up," said project manager Agha Aurangzeb. "It's sad that USAID and FHI are no longer there with financial support; we remain optimistic."

Ayesha Zia, head of the Youth Welfare Association, a sister organisation of SLABWS that set up youth-friendly centres in a low-income area of Karachi called Orangi Town, commented: "One of the project outcomes was to reduce risky behaviour among the youth." She hoped donations from local people would allow the centres to continue  providing information on STIs, HIV and risky sexual practices.

At the New Lights AIDS Control Society (NLACS), also part of PHAPCP, Brother Khushi Lal, head of the Karachi office, told IRIN/PlusNews that the organization's goal was to empower people living with HIV so that they could take care of themselves and their families.

"As the project neared its completion, the global recession also reared its head in Pakistan," he said, noting that the lack of funding meant members now had to cover their own transport costs to attend monthly meetings.

"We have local donors who are willing to give, and though the amount is not as much as from the foreign funding, it does give us sustainability. In the meanwhile, we are willing to continue."


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Help us be the transformation we’d like to see in the news industry

The current journalistic model is broken: Audiences are demanding that the hierarchical, elite-led system of news-gathering and presentation be dismantled in favour of a more inclusive and holistic model based on more equitable access to information and more nuanced and diverse narratives.

The business model is also broken, with many media going bankrupt during the pandemic – despite their information being more valuable than ever – because of a dependence on advertisers. 

Finally, exploitative and extractive practices have long been commonplace in media and other businesses.

We think there is a better way. We want to build something different.

Our new five-year strategy outlines how we will do so. It is an ambitious vision to become a transformative newsroom – and one that we need your support to achieve.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian by making a regular contribution to our work - and help us deliver on our new strategy.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.