Letters To The Editor

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.” –Walt Whitman

HIV stigma and discrimination

HIV is different from many other diseases. Finding out that one has HIV presents complex physical, emotional, social, and legal concerns that do not arise when one is tested for other conditions, including other communicable diseases. Advances in treatment have dramatically transformed the lives of many people living with HIV, but understanding and acceptance within many societies has not improved as dramatically. Almost 30 years after the onset of the epidemic, HIV stigma and discrimination persist and continue to have a forceful impact on people living with HIV. Despite reduction in the ignorance and fear about HIV, people in Pakistan are still denied and fired from jobs, kicked out of residences, ordered to limit contact with family, and discriminated against in many other ways because they have HIV. Perhaps most shockingly, health care personnel have been known to stigmatise patients with HIV, in some cases refusing to treat them or providing substandard care. Recently, during a meeting arranged by CDC in Sindh to review the HIV treatment centres in the province, it was expressed that people with HIV and AIDS, especially women, are often denied admission to hospitals, including emergency wards. Among the most significant societal dimensions is the risk of stigma and discrimination, which is fueled by ignorance about the basic modes of HIV transmission and unfounded fears of contagion, as well as moral judgment and personal prejudice against the groups most affected by the epidemic. Far too many people in Pakistan still lack basic knowledge about how HIV is and is not transmitted. The health care profession has an ethical duty to avoid engaging in stigmatising behaviours and a legal duty not to discriminate. To provide maximally effective and ethical HIV testing and care, health care personnel also need to recognise and take into account the realities faced by people living with HIV and play their part in creating as much awareness as they can.

Zunaira Rafi,

The horror of rising petrol prices

Petroleum rates in the country have sharply increased after the latest round of fuel price hike. Experts have said the continuous increase in fuel prices will have a widespread impact on citizens and the overall economy. There are many ways in which rising fuel prices can impact citizens in the country. The initial impact of the rise will be felt by people who own personal vehicles. The high rate of fuel prices will also have an impact on the automotive sector as vehicle sales may see a sharp drop. A further contraction in demand for vehicles will have a major impact on the automotive industry. Lower demand will, therefore, lead to widespread job losses in the auto and ancillary sectors. The rising fuel prices will also have a cascading effect on businesses spread across various sectors, ultimately impacting citizens. For starters, people who do not own a personal vehicle will be impacted as they will have to pay more towards availing public transport. The public transportation sector is already mulling a hike in rates. Companies engaged in the logistics and transportation of goods are also expected to increase their service rates soon due to the fuel price hike. Demand for increasing product delivery rates has already put consumer-oriented companies in a tough spot. Considering that most products and goods that people use on a daily basis are transported from different parts of the country, their costs are likely to rise further. Simply put, from the food you order to the vegetables and fruits you buy, everything is likely to get costlier. If fuel prices remain elevated, experts say that it will lead to a rise in headline inflation. In such a scenario, our economy is expected to witness a delay in recovery as it will directly impact the consumption levels among citizens. The government needs to find a speedy solution to the fuel price crisis in order to shield the economy from inflation.

Anum Raza,