Hundreds of babies and toddlers have been found infected with HIV in a Pakistani city, in an unprecedented outbreak of the virus where children are the worst affected.
Three-quarters of those testing positive for the virus since the outbreak was discovered a month ago in Rotadero in Sindh province are children, with nearly two-thirds aged five or under.
Unqualified 'quack' doctors sharing dirty needles for injections, intravenous drips and blood transfusions have been blamed for spreading the virus, which attacks the immune system and leads to AIDS.
Dr Maria Elena Filio-Borromeo, Pakistan director for the United Nations' AIDS and HIV programme, said she had not seen anything similar in Asia.
“This one is just unprecedented. It's such a very unique kind of profile, because those infected are children.”
The children have been infected in a country where HIV treatment remains rare for the poor, and where 6,200 people died from AIDS in 2018.
The outbreak was detected when a paediatrician in the area was concerned eight of her young patients were finding it difficult to shake off fevers and not getting better when given medicine. Testing found all eight were HIV positive and a screening programme was started in the city a month ago. Since then 18,418 people have been screened and 607 have been found positive. Of those, 381 are aged five or under. The figure is expected to rise as screening increases.
Researchers have yet to determine the exact source of the outbreak, but believe the virus has been spread by 'quack' doctors who specialise in injections and drips, but do not use clean needles.
Source: The Telegraph
BDST: 1450 HRS, MAY 22, 2019