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Nearly 900 Children Under 12 Test Positive For HIV In Pakistani City

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Nearly 900 children under 12 have tested positive for HIV in Ratodero, Pakistan.

The outbreak, which has been going on since earlier this year, was traced back to one pediatrician whom health officials say was reusing syringes, according to the Times.

“With competing priorities, HIV and AIDS is at the back seat of the government’s agenda,” UNAIDS Director of Pakistan and Afghanistan Maria Elena Filio-Borromeo told the Times.

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Nearly 1,100 citizens — or one in every 200 people in the city — including about 900 children have contracted the virus. Many of those who have been afflicted were treated by pediatrician Muzaffar Ghanghro, who treats some of the city’s poorest citizens, the Times reported citing health officials.

Ratodero father Imtiaz Jalbani’s six children received treatment from Imtiaz Jalbani. Four of his six children contracted HIV and two of his children under 3 years old have died, according to the Times.

Jalbani told the Times that he witnessed Ghanghro rumage through the trash for a syringe. When Jalbani tried to stop the pediatrician., Ghanghro said he was too poor to afford a new syringe.

“He said, ‘If you don’t want my treatment, go to another doctor,’” Jalbani said, according to the Times. “My wife and I had to starve ourselves to pay for the medicine.”

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Ghanghro has been arrested and charged with negligence, manslaughter and causing unintentional harm, but he was never convicted and currently practices outside Ratodero with a renewed license, the Times reported.

Children diagnosed with the illness have been outcasted by society and are separated from children who have not been diagnosed with HIV in school, according to the Times.

The number of people who have tested positive for HIV doubled to 160,000 from 2010 to 2018 and increased to 38% among those ages 15-24, the Times reported citing UNAIDS.

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