‘HIV Cases (in Sindh) Just the Tip of the Iceberg’: Doctor

A report in October 2017 revealed that the devolution of health ministry and AIDS Control Program resulted in an indentation of the national HIV response in the country, and has adversely affected the HIV response- ‘HIV is also rising in the country with no signs of decline’; Sindh province is leading in numbers of HIV patients, the report said based on survey.

Anger and fear continue to swell in the desperately poor Ratodero village hit hard by the epidemic

PKONWEB Report – At least five different screening rooms have been set up in the last month in the village of Wasayo on the outskirts of Larkana in Sindh province.

Villagers wait outside a hospital for blood screening for HIV at a hospital in a village near Ratodero, a small town in Sindh. (Picture: AP)

Parents flock to these screening rooms set up at a makeshift clinic to get their children examined for HIV in a village in Sindh.

“They are coming by the dozens,” says a doctor at the makeshift clinic, beset by a lack of equipment and personnel to treat the surging number of patients.

Families with children in these villages are showing up for checkup after hundreds of people were allegedly infected by a doctor using a contaminated syringe.

The doctor has been arrested by the authorities accused of infecting 437 children with HIV.

Police are attempting to find out if Muzaffar Ghangharo, who has Aids, knowingly spread the virus.

In total more than 500 people have been infected in the district of Larkana, in Sindh, the southern province of Pakistan.

The vast majority are children, who may have caught the virus after being treated with unsterilized syringes. Four children have died and there are fears the number of positive cases will grow as more patients come forward to be tested.

Imran Akbar, a doctor in the city of Ratodero who is now treating some of the infected children, said: ‘The cases are just the tip of the iceberg.’

Metro, UK

Dr Akbar said most of the doctors in remote parts were untrained and many practiced folk medicine. He added that disease were often spread through the reuse of syringes, the piercing of noses and ears and unsafe sex.

An Islamabad-based public health consultant who has done major studies on HIV/AIDS in Pakistan also, said it could be any of the three (see figure above) or combination of any of the three reasons for testing positive with HIV/AIDS virus.

Despardes + PKonweb

He, however, pointed out that prevalence of a huge number of quack doctors in the country and use of infected injections seems to be the main reason of HIV rise.

The case against Ghangharo emerged when ten families accused him of infecting their children. He has told police that ‘he didn’t do anything intentionally’ and will appear in court on Tuesday.

Ghangharo’s medical qualifications are unknown.

After the case of Ghangharo emerged, officials screened 13,800 people. Sikandar Memon, head of the AIDS Control Program in Sindh province, said 437 children and 100 adults tested positive for HIV in Larkana.

Many worry their children’s futures 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.

Pakistan currently has the second-fastest growing HIV rates across Asia, according to the United Nations– Sindh is leading in numbers of HIV patients, the report said.

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

“Who is she going to play with? And when she’s grown up, who would want to marry her,” asks a tearful mother, who requested anonymity, from a nearby village whose four-year-old daughter had just tested positive.