In southern Pakistan, nearly 700 people have been allegedly infected by contaminated syringes with the AIDS virus. By Saturday, 681 people in the town of Rato Dero and the surrounding area had been tested positive for HIV, including 537 children between the ages of two and twelve, a government official told a press conference televised on Sunday. "The results are appalling," official Sikandar Memon said.
After discovering HIV infection in March for several children, the authorities decided in April to test all residents of the region around Rato Dero. Several medical teams are currently testing up to 2000 people daily. There is concern that the number of infections is still rising, said the doctor and local health officials, Masood Solangi. Rato Dero is a city affected by poverty with around 200,000 inhabitants.
A pediatrician is said to be responsible for the massive HIV infections. Cause are probably multiple used syringes, said government representative Zafar Mirza. He announced "drastic measures" by the government against the spread of the virus, should the assumption be confirmed.
The money for HIV medication is missing
The pediatrician, which the authorities blame for the outbreak in the province of Sindh, says she herself is HIV-positive. He denies having knowingly infected his patients. Meanwhile, he is in custody in Rato Dero. Many families in the poor region are in a panic: they know very little about the AIDS virus and possible therapies, and they do not have enough money for medicines.
Until death takes them away from me_10.40am Many Pakistanis reject tablets and, in the event of health problems, ask for syringes or infusions that they find more efficient and often administered in small back rooms by poorly trained medical personnel. The poor health system aggravates the situation. Especially in rural areas, people often have no choice but to turn to unqualified healers. According to experts, these often use the same syringe for several patients to save money.
For a long time HIV was not a problem in Pakistan. But now the virus spreads rapidly – especially among drug addicts and prostitutes. In 2017, 20,000 new infections were registered nationwide. Thus, according to the United Nations, Pakistan has the second largest growth rate in Asia. According to UN estimates, around 150,000 people in the 220 million country were HIV-positive in 2017.
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