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New reports of HIV outbreaks from unsafe healthcare in India and Pakistan


The outbreaks

India: On 5 February 2018, newspapers reported a nosocomial HIV outbreak in Unnao after multiple HIV-positive tests at health camps on 24-27 January. Many of the infected reported injections from a quack.[1] As of 10 February, 75 HIV infections have been reported in the outbreak, including at least 6 children; testing continues[2].

Pakistan: On 15 February 2018, the Daily Pakistan reported 22 identified HIV infections in Kot Momin. The article reports speculation that treatments by a quack doctor spread HIV.[3]

Director General of India’s National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) misleads and stigmatizes

After a team from India’s National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) visited Unnao on 7 February, the NACO Director, Sanjeeva Kumar said: “The virus can’t survive in the sun beyond a minute, so while a contaminated syringe may have caused stray infections, it cannot lead to a spurt in HIV cases.”

The Director’s statement is dead wrong and dangerous in three ways:

(a) The virus survives for hours in the open air, even when dry (see references at: https://dontgetstuck.org/introduction-3/prevention-lies-and-abuse/what-is-your-risk/).

(b) The comment ignores investigated outbreaks in Russia, Romania, Libya, etc (see references at: https://dontgetstuck.org/cases-unexpected-hiv-infections/).

(c) The NACO’s Director’s comments stigmatize any resident of Unnao who speaks out to say they have an HIV infection from health care — stigmatizing them with suspicion they are promiscuous. Was it the intent of the Director to stigmatize and thereby silence people who might speak out about HIV from healthcare?

Government of Pakistan promises a thorough investigation

Quote from Urdu Point, 17 February 2018:[5] “Punjab Health Minister Khawaja Imran Nazir has said that emergency steps have been taken to control increasing cases of HIV Aids and Hepatitis in and around Kot Imrana near Kotmomin on the directions of Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif.”

“During his visit to a medical camp set up at the village for collection of blood samples of the area people, the minister said that thousand of samples had been sent to laboratory so far and the report would be received on Feb 20. He said that after receiving of the reports, the affected people would be provided free-of-cost treatment while a well-equipped laboratory for HIV and Hepatitis would be functional at THQ Kotmomin within two weeks.”

References

1. Unnao HIV cases: chief medical officer got alert in July but didn’t act. NYOOZ, 11 February 2018. Available at: https://www.nyoooz.com/news/lucknow/1031130/unnao-hiv-cases–chief-medical-officer-got-alert-in-july-but-didnt-act/ (accessed 21 February 2018).

2. Williams H. Fake doctor infects 75 Indian patients with HIV. World Report Now, 10 February 2018. Available at: https://www.worldreportnow.com/fake-doctor/6754/ (accessed 21 February 2018).

3. Rehman D. The shocking reason AIDS is spreading in this Pakistani village for last 15 years. Daily Pakistan 15 February 2018. Available at: https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/pakistan/the-shocking-reason-aids-is-spreading-in-this-pakistani-village-for-last-15-years/ (accessed 21 February 2018).

4. Kaul R. Report on Unnao HIV cases: Migrant population unprotected sex among main causes. Hindustan Times, 18 February 2018. Available at: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/report-on-unnao-hiv-cases-migrant-population-unprotected-sex-among-main-causes/story-Tvi8tsl2qInh51gMrviNPM..html  (accessed 18 February 2018).

5. Shabbir F. Punjab health minister for provision of better health facilities in Kot Momin. Urdu Point, 17 February 2018. Available at: https://www.urdupoint.com/en/health/punjab-health-minister-khawaja-imran-nazir-fo-263040.html (accessed 21 February 2018).

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