ISLAMABAD: Rates of HIV have increased in Pakistan s general population as the virus has spread beyond at-risk groups to women and their children, according to an international study.
Scientists at Aga Khan University and Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, led the study, whose findings are published by the journal PloS One Researchers raised concern that the transmission across subgroups into Pakistan s general population might serve as indication that the virus might be spreading into populations within neighbouring Afghanistan.
They said in the study that the technique used to understand the forces that drove the HIV epidemic in Pakistan could also help healthcare professionals understand and intervene in other deadly disease outbreaks wherever they occur.
Are the strains in Pakistan and Afghanistan of two different epidemic origins, or are they the same? It s an important question, said study s author Professor Marco Saleemi, of University of Florida College of Medicine. Genetic evidence can be used to test how different populations are intersecting.
As you can imagine, behavioural data is difficult to get in some countries and this is why molecular tools are important, he said.
Saleemi analysed DNA sequences of blood samples from three HIV-positive groups: intravenous drug users, men, who had sex with men, and women, who had become infected by their bisexual spouses.
By examining the evolutionary makeup of HIV strains, scientists said one of the strongest factors of the disease s spread was through men, who slept with male intravenous drug users. They also vowed to continue the epidemiological work in Afghanistan.The news.