NUMS Department of Public Health (DPH) celebrated World AIDS Day on November 3, 2022, with a critical message to address the inequalities, #Equalize. The event was carried out to show compassion and support for people living with and affected by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and to remember those who lost their lives to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

The event was graced by the very Honourable Dr Malik Muhammad Umair as a guest speaker. Dr Malik Muhammad Umair is an HIV/AIDS treatment specialist at the National AIDS Control Programme Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.

The event started with reciting the holy Quran and the National Anthem. A short film by BSPH student Mr Waleed Sheikh on HIV/AIDS was screened. The comprehensive video not only highlighted the transmission of communicable infection but also captured the situation of HIV/AIDS in Pakistan and highlighted the challenges of discrimination and climate change holding back the end of AIDS.

Dr Malik Muhammad Umair conducted a comprehensive session with the latest statistics on HIV/AIDS globally, regionally, and locally. He briefly discussed the epidemiology, transmission, prevention and management of HIV/AIDS and the latest treatments and innovations available. Dr Umair spoke about HIV prejudice that comes with tagging an individual as part of a group that is wrongfully believed to be socially unacceptable. While stigma refers to an attitude or belief, discrimination is the behaviours that result from those attitudes or beliefs. HIV discrimination treats people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) differently than those without HIV. In discussing the effect of HIV stigma and discrimination, Dr Umair said that HIV stigma affects the emotional well-being and mental health of people living with HIV. People living with HIV often internalise the stigma they experience and develop a negative self-image. They may fear being judged negatively if their HIV status is disclosed. Dr Malik Muhammad Umair interacted with students and discussed the “Internalized stigma” or “self-stigma” and how it can destroy an individual by leading to shame, despair, fear of disclosure, and isolation. He motivated the student to spread the information and awareness to tackle the outdated beliefs that lead people to fear getting HIV, discourage the thought of HIV, and discourage negative attitudes and beliefs about people with HIV. He educated the students on how to end HIV stigma through words and actions.

Prof. Dr Uzma Hassan, speaking on the subject, stressed ending the inequalities that fracture societies and deny people their fundamental human rights to health. She asked the students to finish the inequity, and #Equalize. The HoD DPH, in her vote of thanks, appreciated the faculty and students for their efforts and thanked the chief guest for his time and for speaking on a topic he has excellent expertise and is passionate about.The guest speaker was presented with a shield by the Head of the Department.

The guest speaker visited the area where the posters were displayed. The students presented their posters to the guest speaker and discussed the highlights of the theme of World AIDS Day # EQUALIZE.