Wednesday June 26, 2019

International Team Arrives in Pakistan to Probe HIV Outbreak

But national and international experts were not satisfied with the investigations so far largely being carried out by experts from the University of Karachi

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AIDS, Indonesia, HIV
Students with their faces painted with messages pose during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign to mark the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, in Chandigarh, India, May 20, 2018. (VOA)

An international team, comprising experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control (CDC), Unicef and Unaids, will arrive in Pakistan on Tuesday to probe the latest HIV outbreak in Sindh province.

“Led-by Oliver Morgan, Director of Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment, in the Health Emergencies Programme of WHO, a 12-member international team comprising experts from CDC Atlanta, Georgia, Unicef and Unaids is landing today in Karachi to investigate the root cause of the latest HIV outbreak in Ratodero area of Larkana”, an official of the WHO told The News International.

As of Monday, 700 people including 576 children were tested positive for HIV since the outbreak was first reported on April 25.

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

The Sindh health department blamed “quacks” or unqualified practitioners for reusing syringes which is one of the major source of HIV spread among the general population, especially children.

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But national and international experts were not satisfied with the investigations so far largely being carried out by experts from the University of Karachi.

Fearing a ‘foul play’ in the recent HIV outbreak in Larkana, officials associated with the international health organisations said that although the “reuse of syringes” was emerging as “most likely cause of HIV outbreak” in Larkana, epidemiologists both in Pakistan as well as around the globe were not “satisfied” and have several questions as to why such a large number of children are infected, which is an unusual pattern. (IANS)

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Pakistani Doctors Blame Quacks for Alarming Rise in HIV Cases: Report

Pakistan was considered a country of low HIV prevalence for long, but the disease is expanding at an alarming rate with about 20,000 new HIV cases reported in 2017 alone, according to the UN

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HIV
Nearly 40 individual HPV types linked to HIV infection. Pixabay

The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has blamed quack doctors practicing without training and professional certification for an alarming rise in the number of HIV positive patients in the country, the media reported on Wednesday.

The doctors associated with the PMA said that the quacks, especially fake dentists, spread the virus by using instruments that were not sterilized, adding that despite free-of-cost availability of life-saving antiretroviral drugs at government hospitals, mortality ratio among patients carrying the virus was also increasing.

An alarming surge in HIV cases has been witnessed in five districts of Pakistan’s Punjab province, with 70 to 90 cases being reported monthly at the main government health facility in Faisalabad city, Dawn News reported.

Earlier this month, an international team of experts from the World Health Organization kicked off an investigation into the sudden HIV outbreak in Pakistan’s Sindh province after over 700 people were diagnosed with the virus in a matter of weeks, most of them were children.

HIV
School girls light candles in the shape of a ribbon during a HIV/AIDS awareness campaign ahead of World Aids Day, in Ahmedabad, India, Nov. 30, 2016. (VOA)

Following the outbreak, authorities launched a crackdown on unqualified doctors as well as illegal blood banks and laboratories said to be involved in spreading the disease. At least 17 quack doctors were arrested and more than 70 clinics in Larkana district were shut down, according to Xinhua news agency.

According to the PMA, over 600,000 quacks are currently practicing in the country with more than 80,000 based in Punjab province alone.

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The association demanded the government to make all-out efforts to stop the menace of quackery in the country.

Pakistan was considered a country of low HIV prevalence for long, but the disease is expanding at an alarming rate with about 20,000 new HIV cases reported in 2017 alone, according to the UN. (IANS)