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Mass screening of HIV patients in Larkana: Number of infected children crosses 100 mark as 32 more tested positive

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May 4, 2019

KARACHI: As many as 32 more children were tested positive for HIV in Larkana on Friday, raising the total number of children found infected with the lethal viral disease to 102 during a mass screening drive underway for the last nine days, officials of the Sindh health department said.

The Director General Health Sindh, Dr. Masood Solangi said since April 25, 2019 during the blood screening drive, as many as 128 persons were found infected with the HIV infection and added that out of them, 26 are adult men and women. “Today 7 more adults were tested positive for HIV but the number of children infected with the lethal virus is four times higher as compared to adults,” Dr. Solangi said.

The Sindh health department and law enforcement agencies have launched a probe into the recent outbreak of HIV infection in Larkana, especially in Ratodero after 12 children tested HIV positive while police also arrested a physician accused of deliberately infecting children with the HIV virus.

On the other hand, World Health Organization, Unicef and Sindh health department decided to screen all the children of 12 years of age in Larkana, all women of reproductive age and high risk population including transgenders, Injectible drug users in Larkana while experts from the Aga Khan University, Dow University of Health Sciences and Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation were also consulted to launch an epidemiological probe into the recent outbreak of HIV in thatcity. An official of the Sindh Aids Control Program said action would also continue against quacks. “Initial probe by the law enforcing agencies and experts suggests that reuse of syringes, unsafe blood transmission and to some extent, mother to child transmission of HIV virus are the main causes of recent outbreak in Larkana,” the SACP official said. An official of the Sindh Health Care Commission (SHCC) said their anti-quackery teams in Larkana have so far sealed 49 clinics while 25 clinics were warned. “The SHCC's director anti-quackery met with secretary health to devise future strategy to deal with the prevalence of HIV cases in Larkana and it was decided to continue the crackdown against the quacks,” a spokesperson of SHCC said. The Sindh health department also nominated three doctors and health experts to assist a Joint Investigation Team formed by the DIG Larkana Irfan Baloch to investigate the outbreak and interrogate the arrested physician.

It was also decided to send another team of the experts to assist the staff in conducting epidemiological survey, ascertain the facts and figures, present recommendations and devise strategies to deal with the health crisis. “At the moment, we are not focussed about treatment of the HIV positive population as they are not in an immediate danger. We are concentrating to find people, especially children infected with virus and to ascertain the mode of transmission so preventive measures could be adopted”, an official of the Sindh health department said.

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