Pakistan’s HIV outbreak, children most affected

May 31, 2019

Pakistan, population 200 million, has recently been hit by an HIV endemic where some 680 people are reported to have been infected. In Ratodero, Sindh Province, unease grew as 537 children aged 2-12 years were tested positive for the disease. Parents in the local farming community and surrounding villages fear their children’s futures are doomed after contracting HIV, especially in a country whose masses have little understanding of the disease or access to treatment.

Pakistan’s impoverished, rural communities are vulnerable to unqualified medical practice. A pediatrician is alleged to be responsible for the HIV outbreak from using a contaminated syringe, but there is also an unspoken custom of doctors reusing/overusing needles in the nation.

Zafar Mirza, Special Health Adviser to the Prime Minister, said more than 14,000 people in the city have been screened since April 2019; Prime Minister Imran Khan is going to unveil drastic measures to prevent the disease once the cause is ascertained.

Health data from the United Nations (UN) shows Pakistan has the second fastest-growing HIV rates across Asia – HIV is spread primarily through transfusions of unscreened blood, unprotected sex or injections. The Sindh outbreak is unusual because many children are involved, so a joint team of World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centre for Disease Control (CDC) representatives will travel to Ratodero to work on the problem.

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Category: Community, Features

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