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127 people tested positive for HIV in Larkana; how is this even possible?

127 people tested positive for HIV in Larkana; how is this even possible?

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In one of the more shocking stories to come out in the past few days is the 127 children that have tested positive for HIV. Sensing the gravity of the situation, international health organizations have decided to quickly dispatch a team of technical experts to probe the outbreak after no let-up was observed in an HIV outbreak that has gripped the Larkana district of Sindh for the last 10 days.

The National Aids Control Program (NACP) has stated that they have not determined the cause of this outbreak and are investigating whether the HIV infection is being spread through reused syringes, unsafe blood transmission or if it is some deliberate action.

On Saturday, 25 more children and four adults were tested positive for HIV in Larkana after 619 people were screened for the deadly infection.

“So far, 157 new cases including 127 children and 30 adults have been detected during a mass screening drive underway since April 25, 2019”, Director General Health Sindh Dr. Masood Solangi said.

Dr Muzaffar Ghanghar arrested for injecting patients with the virus

Solangi said during the last 10 days, they had screened over 4,102 people in Ratodero, Larkana and the drive will continue till they ascertain the root cause of the viral infection. In Larkana, a doctor, who himself tested positive for HIV during screening, has been arrested. He was accused by the Larkana deputy commissioner “of infecting 15 children” but health services director general Dr Masood Solangi disputed the DC’s statement and termed the doctor “insane”.

Larkana is known as the home to the Pakistan’s People’s Party (PPP), which has faced many accusations of administration failures throughout their tenure in power, whether national, provincial or local. This case furthers thoughts accusations by showing that they cannot even manage their own stronghold.

But the bigger question is, how did this happen?

While all those investigating have assured the public that they have nothing to fear, many are confused how such a large outbreak of such a deadly virus could just happen. Quakery, which the doctor mentioned earlier had been accused of, has been seen as a major problem in Sindh. This leads to unsafe practices, increasing the risk of infection.

More importantly, where are the regulations?

While institutions like the Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority (SBTA), Sindh Healthcare Commission (SHCC) and the AIDS Control Programme exist, they seem to apparently work in isolation. “We need to expand the scope of screening to other districts,” an SBTA official said to the media. Furthermore, the SHCC is a relatively new program, and as such, has been plagued with inefficiencies.

Only time can tell if this case is handled properly and how the government reactions, but be careful! Only go to doctors you trust. Do not go to quakes.  

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