A doctor is accused of infecting hundreds of people in Pakistan with HIV — including at least 437 children.
The Guardian reports that Muzaffar Ghangharo, who is HIV-positive, was detained by authorities after at least 10 families claimed he treated their children with used syringes in the Larkana District of the South Asian nation.
“He said that he didn’t do anything intentionally. Ghangharo said that in his statement to police. [But] four kids have died and their parents have blamed the doctor for killing them,” Sartaj Jhagirani, a police officer in Ratodero, the main city of Larkana, told the British newspaper.
Sikandar Memon, who leads the AIDS Control Program in Sindh province, told The Guardian that doctors in the region had screened at least 16,000 people for HIV. Of those, 437 children and over 100 adults had tested positive.
“Sixty percent are children less than five years,” Memon said of those who tested positive for the virus. Fatima Emaan, a 16-month-old girl, was the first child to experience symptoms and receive a positive diagnosis a few months ago.
Those numbers have likely risen since The Guardian's Friday report. In the wake of the outbreak, health officials have been testing 1,000 people each day, and the number of positive results has already jumped by 100 from Thursday to Friday.
Imran Akbar, a local physician, pointed to a lack of public information about HIV and safe sex — even among doctors, most of whom are untrained and practice folk medicine — as factors in the spread of disease in the region, as well as the use of used syringes and unsanitary medical equipment.
Ghangharo, whose medical credentials are unknown, will appear in court Tuesday to address the accusations.