Pakistani doctor arrested after 90 infected by HIV syringe

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A doctor has been arrested in Pakistan after he allegedly used a syringe contaminated with HIV, infecting up to 90 people, including 65 children.

“We have arrested a doctor after receiving complaints from the health authorities,” said Kamran Nawaz, the local police chief heading the case in the southern city of Larkana, on Friday.

“We are told that the doctor also has HIV,” he said.

Authorities were first alerted last week after 18 children living on the outskirts of the city tested positive for the virus, which causes AIDS, prompting health officials to carry out wider screenings. Dozens of more infections were found.

Dr Muzaffar Ghangharo was charged with infecting his patients in the southern city of Larkana, the daily Express Tribune newspaper reported.

Dr Abdul Rehaman, a district health official in the city, told the agency: “More than 90 people have tested HIV positive and the number of children is around 65.”

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper said at least 88 people had tested HIV positive in the small town of Ratodero, where Dr Ghangharo runs a private clinic.

Authorities became alarmed earlier this month when the number of HIV cases rose to at least 39, including more than a dozen children.

A second official confirmed the outbreak, although gave slightly different figures.

Authorities said they traced the outbreak to a single doctor, who appears to have been using a contaminated syringe on patients.

Azra Pechuho, Sindh province’s health minister, confirmed his arrest. “The blood of the parents of the infected children was also tested, but their results were negative,” he said.

Officials have since launched an even larger testing and education drive.

Pakistan is considered a low prevalence country for HIV, but the disease is expanding – mostly among intravenous drug users, sex workers and migrant labourers returning from the Gulf.

Dr Ghangharo has denied the charges against him, the Express Tribune reported.

He said he did not know he was HIV positive and said: “If I had known about my condition, then I would have sought medical help.”

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