ISLAMABAD: A network for women with HIV has been established with an aim to register women from across the country so their rights may be ensured.
Positive Female Network (POFEN) has been established by the Association of People Living with HIV (APLHIV) Pakistan, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) on Monday.
According to estimates, there are 90,000 to 120,000 people with HIV/Aids in the country but only 11,000 are registered with government departments. Social stigma associated with the disease prevents patients, especially women, from getting themselves registered.
The unavailability of reliable data makes it difficult for the government to devise a policy for prevention or treatment of patients. A ceremony was held in Islamabad where women with HIV from across the province participated. The ceremony was chaired by MNA Syeda Zahra Fatemi.
The network also aims to mobilise women leaders to influence policy, law, programmes and funds to empower women living with and affected by HIV.
Women living with and affected by HIV have a right to healthy, dignified and respectful lives, free of stigma, discrimination and violence, the statement says.