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More than 1,100 people, including 900 children, have tested positive for HIV after a doctor ‘reused syringes’

Reiss Smith October 28, 2019
A Pakistani paramedic takes a blood sample from a baby for a HIV test in Ratodero

A Pakistani paramedic takes a blood sample from a baby for a HIV test in Ratodero. (Getty)

Nearly 900 children in Ratodero, Pakistan, have acquired HIV after a doctor allegedly reused syringes that had been exposed to the virus.

A paediatrician was arrested and charged with negligence and manslaughter after parents accused him of reusing syringes on their children.

Imtiaz Jalbani told The New York Times that he had watched as Dr Muzaffar Ganghro searched through a bin for an old needle to use on his six-year-old son, who was later diagnosed as HIV-positive.

Jalbani said that when he tried to stop Ganghro, he told him that he was too poor to afford a new needle. At 16p a visit, Ganghro was one of the cheapest doctors in the city.

Four of Jalbani’s six children have since been tested positive for HIV. The two youngest have died.

Doctor ‘gave 50 children same drip without changing needle’.

Another parent said that three of their children contracted HIV after they were treated by Ganghro. They told Reuters that the doctor “applied the same drip on 50 children without changing the needle”.

Ganghro has denied all allegations. Despite laws which deny bail to those accused of reusing needles, he is currently working as GP in another hospital, according to The Independent.

About 200 adults have also tested positive for HIV since health officials began screening in April, bringing the total to more than 1,100.

It is feared that the final number of people affected could be much higher, as more than three-quarters of Ratodero’s 200,000 residents so far are yet to be tested.

Though there is much testimony against Ganghro, he is not thought to be the sole source of the epidemic. Health officials have noted that other doctors have been seen to reuse syringes, barbers often use the same razors to shave customers and “roadside” dentists use unsterilised tools.

HIV transmissions increasing at ‘alarming rate’ in Pakistan.

The World Health Organisation, which is supporting officials in Ratodero, said that HIV transmissions are increasing “at an alarming level” across Pakistan.

About 150,000 adults are thought to be living with HIV, with 21,000 new transmissions recorded in 2018.

The current outbreak is the fourth recorded in the Larkana district since 2003, including two others which concerned patients in hospitals.

The UN has set a global ’90-90-90′ target for 2020 – meaning 90 percent of people living with HIV to be diagnosed, 90 percent of people diagnosed to receive treatment, and 90 percent of people in treatment to have undetectable viral loads, which means they cannot pass on HIV.

More: HIV, Pakistan, Ratodero, United Nations

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