Nearly 900 children in a Pakistani city test positive for HIV after a pediatrician reuses an infected syringe.
About 200 adults have also tested positive for the virus since the outbreak in Ratodero broke out in April.
Health officials fear the actual number of people infected with HIV could be much higher, as less than a quarter of the 200,000 city residents tested so far.
The outbreak of HIV infection is thought to have originated from Muzaffar Ghanghro, a pediatrician who reused infected needles. He was arrested on charges of negligence and manslaughter after patients accused him of repeatedly reusing syringes.
Imtiaz Jalbani, a father of six children treated by a pediatrician, told the New York Times that Dr. Ghanghro had collected an old needle from the bin for use with his 6-year-old son. He was later diagnosed with HIV positive. When Jalbani denounced it, the doctor said the father was too poor to pay for a new needle. Jalbani four children all tested positive for HIV and the two youngest died.
Another parent with three children who became infected with HIV after being treated by Dr. Ghanghro told Reuters that the doctor used the same infected needle for 50 children.
Dr. Ghanghro has not yet been convicted, though the law refuses to bail people accused of reusing syringes. He is currently a family doctor at a public hospital on the outskirts of the city after renewing his medical certificate. He denied all accusations and asserted his innocence.
Although the initial investigation by police and health officials concluded that the main cause of the HIV transmission was due to Dr. Ganguro negligence and carelessness, officials said that this was not the case. sole cause.
Not only did Ratodero doctors reuse syringes, but barbers also used the same razor for many customers and roadside dentists pulled out patients with disinfected instruments. These have led to an increase in the number of HIV infections.
At present, there is a limited awareness of Pakistani people about HIV virus, and many people are concerned that the disease can be transmitted through casual contact. Nearly 900 children living with HIV were shunned by their friends and forced to sit in isolation at school. Some parents said they fear the virus will spread through physical contact with their children.
Lack of knowledge about HIV / AIDS is not uncommon in communities across Pakistan. In Pakistan, the number of HIV infections has doubled since 2010 to 160,000.
According to a joint United Nations program on HIV and AIDS, there are currently about 600,000 unqualified doctors operating illegally in the country, 270,000 of them in Sindh province, where the city of Ratodero is located.
The Pakistani government has responded to this crisis by closing the doors of illegal doctors and blood banks. But as media attention diminished, some clinics began to reopen.