HIV outbreak sparks panic in southern Pakistan


Parents Nervously Watching for Children in a Village in Pakistan Pakistan, where hundreds of people have been infected by a doctor using contaminated syringe.

Dispatched to keep order, the police scanned the crowds of families, the hurricane, the outskirts of Larkana in Sindh provinces.

Health officials say more than 400 people, many of them children, have tested HIV positive in recent weeks as well as experts in infection rates across Pakistan, often at the hands of quack doctors.

Anger and fear continue to swell in the desperately poor village hit hard by the epidemic, which may be linked to gross negligence or malicious by a local pediatrician.

"They are coming by the dozens," says the doctor of the makeshift clinic.

Mukhtar Pervez waits anxiously to have her daughter tested, worrying a recent fever may be linked to the outbreak. For others, their worst fears have already become a reality.

Nisar Ahmed arrived at the clinic looking for medicine after his one-year-old daughter tested positive three days earlier.

"The curse (the doctor) who has caused these children to be infected," he says angrily.

Nearby Imam Zadi accompanies her children to be examined after her grandson tested positive.

"The entire family is so upset," she tells AFP.

Others have been irreparably harmed after contracting HIV, especially in a country whose masses of rural poor have little understanding of the disease or access to treatment.

"Who's going to play with? And when she's grown up, who would want to marry her?" asks a tearful mother from a nearby village, who asked to named, her four-year-old daughter who just tested positive.

– 'Helpless'-

Pakistan was long considered to be low prevalence for HIV, but the disease is expanding at an alarming rate, particularly among intravenous drug users and sex workers.

With about 20,000 new HIV infections reported in 2017 alone, Pakistan currently has the second fastest growing HIV rates across Asia, according to the UN.

Pakistan's surging population, the vulnerable to unqualified medical practitioners.

"According to some government reports, around 600,000 doctors are operating across the country and around 270,000 are practicing in the province of Sindh," said UNAIDS in a statement.

Provincial health officials also have a special risk of contracting diseases and viruses, where injections are often pushed as a primary treatment option.

"Sake of saving money, these quacks will have multiple problems with single syringes."

Bushra Jamil, an expert on infectious diseases at the Aga Khan The large number of unified medical syringes University in Karachi.

"Rampant medical malpractices without any effective checks and balances are causing repeated outbreaks in Pakistan," said Jamil.

Authorities investigating the outbreak in Sindh say the accused doctor has also tested positive for HIV.

From a ramshackle jail cell in the nearby city of Ratodero, who has reportedly charges and accused the patient of the virus.

If you are not able to get rid of the deadly AIDS virus, you need to be able to find out more about it.

"We are helpless. I have other children and I am afraid they would catch the disease," says another mother whose daughter recently tested positive for HIV.

"(Please) send me some medicine for our children or I can be cured. If not all of our children will be right?"

Parents worry about their children's futures have been irreparably harmed after contracting HIV

Health officials say more than 400 people, many children, tested HIV positive in recent weeks

Pakistan currently has the second fastest growing HIV rates across Asia, according to the UN

Provincial health officials say at the risk of contracting diseases or viruses at clinical trials where injections are pushed as a primary treatment option


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