900 Kids Have AIDS In City Known For Transgender Prostitutes

Sindh, Pakistan. File photo, DFID, CC BY-SA 2.0

“Another HIV outbreak hit the province a few years ago, which resulted in 1,521 people diagnosed, most men linked to transgender prostitutes.” – UPI, May 21, 2019

Panic After 900 Children Test Positive for H.I.V.

Health workers say the reuse of syringes drove the outbreak 

Oct. 26, 2019

New York Times, RATODERO, Pakistan — Nearly 900 children were bedridden early this year in the small Pakistani city of Ratodero with raging fevers that resisted treatment. Parents were frantic, with everyone seeming to know a family with a sick child.

In April, the disease was pinned down, and the diagnosis was devastating: The city was the epicenter of an H.I.V. outbreak that overwhelmingly affected children. Health officials initially blamed the outbreak on a single pediatrician, saying he was reusing syringes.

Since then, about 1,100 citizens have tested positive for the virus, or one in every 200 residents. Almost 900 are younger than 12. Health officials believe the real numbers are probably much higher, as only a fraction of the population has been tested so far.

Gulbahar Shaikh, the local journalist who broke the news of the epidemic to residents of his city and the nation in April, watched as his neighbors and relatives rushed to clinics to line up and test for the virus.

When officials descended on Ratodero to investigate, they discovered that many of the infected children had gone to the same pediatrician, Muzaffar Ghanghro, who served the city’s poorest families and appeared to be at the center of the outbreak.

Mr. Shaikh panicked — that was his children’s pediatrician. He rushed his family to be tested, and his 2-year-old daughter was confirmed to have the virus, which is the cause of AIDS.

“It was devastating,” said Mr. Shaikh, a 44-year-old television journalist in Ratodero, a city of 200,000 whose residents are some of Pakistan’s poorest, with high illiteracy rates …

Since 2003, there have been eight H.I.V. outbreaks in Pakistan. And Ratodero had been the site of one before: In 2016, an outbreak hit some 1,500 adult men who had engaged in sex with infected prostitutes, officials said. Read more. 

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