Pakistan town hit with HIV outbreak among hundreds of children

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Published on June 14, 2021 by

The town of Rato Dero, in southern Pakistan’s Sindh province, is struggling to deal with an outbreak of HIV. The cluster was reported in April 2019. Most of those affected were children. When it emerged that majority of cases appeared to be linked to one doctor, the authorities took action. But many families are still suffering.
A medical center was set up in response to the mass outbreak of HIV among children in the town in 2019. The center hands out the anti-retroviral drugs used to treat HIV for free. But families have to cover all other costs.
They say this is wrong – especially as the tragedy that hit their community two years ago could have been avoided.
Dr. Imran Akbar Arbani was the one who raised the alarm about a growing number of HIV cases among children.
Reports said the cases were linked to the reuse of dirty syringes by one doctor in the town.
He denied the charges. He was arrested but is now out on bail. Some accused the authorities of scapegoating the doctor to try to cover up the government’s own shortcomings and its failure to provide even basic health care for the majority of people.
In the aftermath of the disaster the regional government tried to improve the situation by checking doctors were following the rules. But critics say they have since become less strict, and for the families and children in the communities hit by the HIV outbreak there’s still no end in sight to their suffering.

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