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Epidemiology of HIV/AIDS and Syphilis among High Risk Groups in Pakistan

Epidemiology of HIV/AIDS and Syphilis among High Risk Groups in Pakistan

Usman Waheed1,*, Humayoon Shafique Satti2, Muhammad Arshad3, Ahmed Farooq3, Abdul Rauf4 and Hasan Abbas Zaheer1,5

1Department of Pathology and Blood Bank, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University, Islamabad, Pakistan
2Department of Biochemistry, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan
3Department of Biotechnology, International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan
4Department of Zoology, University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, Pakistan 
5Safe Blood Transfusion Programme, Ministry of National Health Services, Government of Pakistan

*      Corresponding author:


The prevalence of HIV/AIDS and syphilis is rapidly increasing among high risk groups (HRGs) in Pakistan leading it away from achieving the 6th millennium development goal of halting and reversing HIV/AIDS epidemic. Syphilis increases the risk of HIV transmission by two to five times, and this co-infection is common among HRGs. The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and syphilis among selected HRGs. During a period from September 2015 to February 2016, community-based sampling was done from 134 Hijra sex workers (HSW), 101 female sex workers (FSW), 104 jail prisoners and 48 intravenous drug users (IDUs) through community outreach, peer referring and field sampling. Blood samples were tested for syphilis and HIV infections after pre-test counseling and receiving informed written consent. Initial testing was performed by rapid devices approved by World Health Organization (WHO) and confirmed by Chemiluminescence Immunoassays (CLIA). Of total 387 respondents, 149 subjects tested positive for syphilis (38.5%), whereas 37 tested positive for HIV (9.6%). Syphilis co-infection was found in 22 of the HIV infected subjects (59.5%; odd ratio 2.53; p=0.008). Co-infection was most prevalent among HSW group (90.9%; OR 8.67; P=0.005) followed by FSW group (20%) and IDUs (14.3%). There is a pressing need for HIV prevention plan that should emphasize on raising awareness and promote use of preventive measures to limit HIV/AIDS and syphilis infections in HRGs especially among the HSWs and FSWs.

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology


Vol. 50, Iss. 6, Pages 1999-2398


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