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25 more children, six adults tested positive: HIV outbreak spreads to other cities of Sindh

May 08, 2019

KARACHI: An HIV positive outbreak initially reported from the Larkana district of Sindh seems to spreading to other cities of the province as five more persons were tested positive for HIV in the Hatri area of Larkana while 29 more persons, including 25 children, were tested positive for the viral infection in the Ratodero area of Larkana, health officials said on Tuesday.

“As many as 29 people, including 25 children ,were tested positive for HIV infection in Ratodero during an ongoing mass screening for the viral infection while five persons were tested positive for HIV in the Hatri area of Hyderabad also,” an official of the health department said and warned that hundreds of people could have also been tested positive in other areas of Sindh as no work was done to prevent the HIV transmission in high risk to low risk population in the province.

The Sindh health department officials said keeping in view the detection of hundreds of new cases in Larkana and other cities of Sindh, they had requested the Global Fund for Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to urgently provide Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) medicines for dozens of children and adults who are being tested HIV positive since April 25, 2019 in the Ratodero area of Larkana.

“As many as 25 children and four adults were tested positive for HIV in the Ratodero area on Monday, raising the total number of people infected with the lethal viral disease to 186 during the last 12 days,” an official of Sindh Health Department said, adding that around 4,703 persons were screened for the HIV since the latest outbreak in the area.

Similarly, around six persons were tested positive for HIV in the Hatri area of Hyderbabad where People’s Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI) tested five suspected patients and all of them were found infected with the lethal disease.

“It is an alarming situation as hundred percent suspected patients were found infected with HIV in a small area of Hyderabad. This is like an explosion of HIV infection in the province and we don’t know whether we have the capacity and resources to identity and manage such a large number of patients or not,” the official said.

Provincial health authorities said the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) and the global fund have been requested to provide ART medicines immediately so that infected children and adults could be prevented from developing AIDS as these medicines help reduce viral load in the newly-infected patients and help them in living normal life.

“Today, at a meeting of all stakeholders in Larkana, it was decided that Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) drugs would be provided to the newly-infected children and adults in the Ratodero area and in this regard, National Aids Control Program and The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria would be requested to send medicines as soon as possible,” the health department official told The News.

An investigation team comprising experts from UNAIDS, provincial disease surveillance department, Aga Khan University Karachi, World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef officials was also formed to launch an investigation into the recent outbreak, in which mostly children were being bound infected with the lethal virus, the official said and added that screening of general population as well as key population would continue in the affected area.

“At the moment, nobody exactly knows about the mode of HIV transmission to people, especially children in Larkana, and in order to know the actual causes of the spread of infection, a probe team comprising experts from national and international health bodies has been formed,” he official said.

The health department also decided to launch a mass awareness campaign among people as well as to sensitizing the media about the importance of the issue, the official said adding that they had also decided to screen people for other infections and diseases in Larkana including Hepatitis B and C.