AIDS crisis in Pakistan with 500 residents believed to be infected by the doctor's re-use of syringes


A doctor infected with AIDS was arrested after 400 children and 100 adults tested positive for HIV in Pakistan.

"It has spread" because of a quack "re-using syringes with" no cure for infection control measures, "said the Pakistan National AIDS Control Program (NACP).

The authorities said they had traced the epidemic to a single doctor, who would have used a contaminated syringe on the patients, reports Khaleej Times.

Officials said the HIV epidemic in Larkana, southern Pakistan, began when local AIDS doctor Muzaffar Ghangharo infected patients at the beginning of April.

The doctor was arrested earlier this month after hundreds of local children and adults tested positive for the virus.

The police are still trying to determine if Ghangharo deliberately transmitted the disease to others.

It is not clear from media reports whether people have been infected by his blood or by other HIV patients.

Among those affected was Ali Raza, 10, who came down with a fever in the family home in the dusty, largely neglected district of Larkana, reports the Associated Press.

His mother, Rehmana Bibi, took his son to a local doctor, who prescribed paracetamol syrup for Raza and told her that there was no reason to worry.

But she panicked after being warned that several children who initially had a fever had tested positive for HIV in neighboring villages.

An alarmed Bibi took Raza to a hospital where medical tests confirmed that she was among more than 500 people, mostly children, who the authorities claim to have tested positive for the virus, which can lead to AIDS.

He told AP: "We suffered a lot on the day we learned of our son who was testing HIV positive."

Bibi said it was heartbreaking to know that Ali had contracted HIV at a young age.

He said all his family members were tested for the virus that attacks the immune system, but Raza was found to be the only victim.

Bibi said he had sleepless nights with concerns and took care of his son from the beginning of this month, when he was confirmed HIV positive.

He said he wants to see his son healthy and completely healed as soon as possible.

Sikandar Memon, head of the AIDS Control Program in Sindh province, said officials screened 13,800 people from Larkana and more than 400 children and 100 adults tested positive for HIV.

At the national level, the Pakistani Ministry of Health has registered over 23,000 HIV cases.

Pakistani health officials have said that HIV usually spreads across the country using unsterilized syringes.

Geo TV said that of the 534 positive tests in the Rotodero district of Larkana, 270 were women and 264 men.

Children between the ages of two and five were the most affected, accounting for 55% of cases, while an additional 20% were between six and 15, while the rest were adults.

The NACP said it had sent a team along with other experts from various institutions and agencies of the United Nations following the outbreak.

The organization claimed to have been directed by the government to further investigate the epidemic and to support patients by "providing all possible treatment facilities" along with prevention and control measures.

He said staff and "other experts" had initially concluded that "the main cause of HIV infection had spread due to charlatans who badly practiced syringe reuse and no cure for other infection control measures ( blood and safety of the equipment) ".

A person with HIV can transmit the virus to others in various ways, including sharing needles; from mother to child during birth or breastfeeding, or through unprotected sex, explains the NHS.

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