A doctor in Pakistan has been arrested amid an investigation into the outbreak of HIV in hundreds of children.
Since the end of April, around 500 people in Sindh province have been tested positive for the HIV virus, with more than 400 of the diagnoses being in children, according to Sikandar Memon, head of the region’s AIDS Control Programme.
The outbreak has mostly centred around the Larkana district, situated in the north west of the province.
In a Facebook post earlier this week, the programme said it had sent several experts along with UN agencies to investigate and respond to the outbreak, which it believes was caused by “quack” doctors reusing syringes.
One local doctor, who has AIDS himself, was arrested earlier this month, and an investigation is currently underway to find out whether he intentionally used ill practices to spread the disease.
Larkana resident Rehmana Bibi told the Associated Press that she was “in great pain” after her 10-year-old son Ali Reza was diagnosed recently with HIV.
She said Ali initially came down with a fever, but she grew increasingly concerned after hearing about other children in surrounding villages that had similar symptoms and had recently been tested positive for HIV.
This prompted her to take Ali to hospital, where doctors confirmed that he was one of the hundreds of children affected in the outbreak.
Bibi’s family have all since been screened, but Ali remains the only one to have contracted the disease.
According to Pakistan’s AIDS Control Programme, there are just over 24,000 registered cases of people living with HIV across the country, but an estimated 150,000 people are believed to be living with the disease.
UNAIDS spokesperson Fahmida Khan tweeted this week that Pakistan has seen a 57% increase in HIV infections between 2010-2018, with the Sindh province accounting for 50% of this.