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HIV patients take part in an awareness session at Pakistan Society, a nongovernmental organization drop-in center, in Karachi, Nov. 30, 2013. Pixabay

Officials in Pakistan and the United Nations are investigating causes of a new outbreak of HIV infections in a southern district where nearly 400 people have been diagnosed in less than two weeks. Officials confirmed Saturday that nearly 80% of those infected are children, with nearly half of them under age 5.

Local media began reporting about the epidemic two weeks ago from Larkana, a district of Sindh province, which has already experienced three outbreaks in recent years. A local doctor who treated several patients with a single needle and syringe was blamed for spreading the virus, which causes AIDS.

The provincial government rushed teams of public health workers to the district, with an estimated population of 1.5 million, to quickly assess the situation and mobilize resources to curtail further spread of HIV. More than 9,000 people have since been subjected to screening in the affected district, and the process is continuing, Sikandar Memon, the provincial head of the AIDS Control Program, told reporters.

A UNAIDS spokeswoman told VOA that international partners had joined local teams to help quickly carry out an outbreak investigation and address the acute needs of the people infected with HIV, including immediately linking them to treatment, care and support services.

The spokeswoman, Fahmida Khan, said efforts were being made to ensure that unsafe injection and blood transfusion practices were being stopped. She also noted that there were unconfirmed reports of similar HIV outbreaks in surrounding districts.

Focus of problem

Sindh, with a population of nearly 48 million, accounts for 43% of an estimated 150,000 people living with HIV in Pakistan.

U.N. officials say since 2010, there has been a 57% increase in new HIV/AIDS infections in Pakistan. They noted that among all identified HIV cases in Pakistan, 43,000 are females.

Last year, an estimated 20,000 people were newly identified with HIV in Pakistan and 6,200 people died of AIDS, according to local and U.N. officials.

Khan would not comment on the reasons for the high number of HIV infections among children and the potential causes of the latest outbreak in Larkana, saying “further investigations and epidemiological review is yet required and suggested.”

Provincial authorities also have launched a high-level investigation to ascertain the veracity of the allegations against the local doctor, who already has been taken into police custody.

Pakistani social activists carry placards during a rally to raise awareness on World AIDS Day in Lahore, Dec. 1, 2016. VOA

Some also blame unsafe injection practices by quack doctors for contributing to the spread of HIV. Government officials estimate about 600,000 unqualified doctors are unlawfully operating in Pakistan and 270,000 of them are practicing in Sindh.

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Critics also blame lapses in Pakistan’s national health system, the low priority given to the problem, corruption, the recent abolition of the federal health ministry and the delegation of its functions to the provinces for the worsening health sector situation and the increase in HIV infections.

Pakistani and U.N. officials say the HIV epidemic in Pakistan remains largely concentrated among key populations, including people who inject drugs, the transgender community, sex workers and their clients, and men who have sex with men. (VOA)



Samsung Electronics, the world's number two foundry firm behind Taiwan's TSMC, announced in May that it will build a $17 billion fab in the US.

Samsung Electronics will quickly decide on a foundry investment in the US, a senior executive said Tuesday, as the South Korean tech giant seeks to become the world's number one player in the logic chip and foundry sectors. Samsung Electronics, the world's number two foundry firm behind Taiwan's TSMC, announced in May that it will build a $17 billion fab in the US.

Samsung's de facto leader Lee Jae-yong is widely speculated to visit the US, possibly next month, to finalise the site, with the city of Taylor, Texas, emerging as the strongest candidate. Other candidates include Arizona, New York, and Austin, Texas. Kim Ki-nam, Vice Chairman and CEO of Samsung's device solutions division, said it takes time for the company to review all the factors such as "infrastructure, site, personnel and state incentives," and make a final decision.

"We are trying to make a decision as soon as possible," Kim told reporters on the sidelines of the Korea Electronics Show 2021, which is under way at an exhibition center in southern Seoul. He made the comments when asked whether Samsung will make an investment within this year. He did not elaborate, reports Yonhap news agency.

Separately, Kim said the company has been "calmly" preparing answers to a recent request by the US Department of Commerce about its semiconductor business. The US has asked global chipmakers, including Samsung, to share information on inventories and demanded other details by November 8 to "help improve trust and transparency within the supply chain." The request spawned concerns about the leak of chipmakers' major trade secrets. (IANS/ MBI)

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Wikimedia Commons

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Another stuntman posted, "First craziest action sequence have done (sic).!! Cheer's To @hrithikroshan @parvez.shaikhh @stuntindia1 and all the stunt boys.!!"

'Vikram Vedha' is a Hindi remake of the runaway Tamil hit of the same name which was released in 2017. While the original action thriller starred R. Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi, the Hindi version will see Hrithik Roshan squaring off against Saif Ali Khan. (IANS/ MBI)

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