KARACHI: The number of people confirmed to be HIV positive in just one taluka of Larkana district has risen to 393, it emerged.
According to the Sindh government’s HIV/AIDS Control Program, blood screening of 9,082 people was carried out in the wake of the recent surfacing of HIV-positive cases in Ratodero and in its suburbs.
Children forms the majority of HIV-positive cases with a tally of 312, with the remaining — 81 — were adults, according to the latest statistics provided by the provincial government’s department.
The surge in detection of HIV-positive cases in Larkana — considered to be the political capital of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — stirred a political storm, forcing the government to launch a crackdown on quacks.
Police in their crackdown against illegal medical practitioners, have rounded up some 17 quacks and their clinics have also been sealed in Larkana district alone. FIRs were also registered under Sections 417, 419 and 269 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) against the arrested suspects.
The HIV cases came to light in Larkana after a doctor, who himself tested positive for HIV during screening, was arrested and accused of “infecting children”. A case has been registered against the doctor. The latest figures show that the disease remains prevalent.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) if not treated.
According to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2017-18, “Till date 4,500 HIV positive cases have been reported to the AIDS Control Programmes at federal and provincial level” — a phrase repeated in the survey reports since 2012-13.
Meanwhile, the UNAIDS 2017 fact sheet estimates 150,000 adults and children living with HIV in Pakistan.