Public health officials are tracking the rise of HIV and AIDS in Pakistan, once categorized among nations with a low prevalence of the disease.
"Curiosity about sex and drugs, negative peer pressure, and economic frustration might all lead young people to engage in behaviors which could lead to HIV infection," said Dr. Muhammad Ashraf Chaudhry, head of community medicine at Islamabad Medical & Dental College.
Between 2008 and 2009, the official number of HIV cases rose from 5,000 to 6,000. Public health estimates say the actual number of HIV cases during that time rose from 80,000 to 97,400.
The increase is driven by intravenous drug users and male sex workers, Chaudhry said. The proportion of intravenous drug users found to be HIV-positive increased from 9 percent in 2005-06 to 20 percent in 2007-08, he said.
Pakistan's National AIDS Control Program offers free treatment through 20 AIDS treatment centers throughout the country.
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.