12 more children in Ratodero test HIV-positive: Sindh AIDS Control office

LARKANA: The number of HIV-positive cases rose to 18 when a special team working under the administrative control of the Sindh AIDS Control Program arrived in Ratodero to ascertain the causes of its spread in children.

Dr Holla Ram, who looks after the local AIDS control office, said that after visiting Ratodero and meeting the people concerned, the team received laboratory reports of 15 infected children. Of them, he added, 12 appeared HIV-posi­tive cases and the rest HIV-negative.

The tests were conducted by the Peoples Public Health Initiative (PPHI) office. “But even then we will double check them by conducting fresh tests,” he said.

The number of such cases in the area rises to 18

“We also met Dr Imran Arbani, a leading general practitioner in Ratodero, to further assess gravity of the situation. Dr Umair Malik, the national treatment coordinator of the programme, will arrive here from Islamabad on Saturday along with the relevant medicines. On the recommendation of Prof Saifullah Jamro, Prof Dr Fatima Mir, a specialist in viral diseases from Aga Khan University, Karachi, will also be arriving here to provide training to doctors and other staff in the handling of HIV-positive and AIDS cases,” he said.

The AIDS Control Programme team comprising Dr Safdar Abbasi, the head of the AIDS Treatment Centre at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), and Sikandar Iqbal, the NGO coordinator, along with technicians carried out tests for the disease after doing a blood screening test at the Ratodero taluka hospital.

Dr Abbasi told media that 69 blood samples, collected from children of different age groups, were screened and only two cases — a woman and her seven-month-old child — were found to be HIV-positive. Interestingly, her husband appeared HIV-negative, he said, adding that more tests would be carried out.

On Saturday two more teams would visit the taluka hospital and the outskirts of Ratodero to examine the patients hailing from different villages.

Dr Imran Arbani told media that a 16-month-old girl was brought to him with the compliant of high fever. Upon being examined, it turned out to be an HIV-positive case, he said.

The doctor shared the reports of the PPHI lab with this correspondent which showed 16 HIV-positive cases. He claimed that five other patients whose tests were conducted at the Aga Khan lab had died of the deadly disease.

Dr Arbani said some cases were also reported from Thango Khan Bozdar and Allah Dino Selro villages situated on the outskirts of Ratodero. He said the infected patients belonged to the segment living below poverty line.

He suspected that multiple use of a syringe could be the cause of HIV infection. Recycling of used syringes has become a business here, he noted, and said that other factors could be unsafe sex and transfusion of unscreened blood during surgeries.

A resident of Nadir Shah Moh­alla, whose 16-month-old daughter was the first HIV-positive case that had surfaced in Ratodero, told media that Dr Arbani had advised HIV/AIDS test when her temperature did not subside despite treatment provided by several doctors.

Dr Safdar Abbasi held quackery mostly responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS.