Nearly 900 children in a Pakistani city have tested positive for HIV after a rogue paediatrician allegedly reused infected syringes.
About 200 adults have also tested positive for the virus since the epidemic in Ratodero was confirmed in April.
But health officials fear the true number affected could be far higher, with less a quarter of city’s 200,000 residents tested so far.
The outbreak was initially blamed on Dr Muzaffar Ghanghro, a paediatrician who at 30 cents a visit was one of the cheapest in the small central city.
He was arrested and charged with negligence and manslaughter after his patients accused him of frequently reusing syringes on their children.Imtiaz Jalbani, whose six children were treated by the paediatrician, told The New York Times Dr Ganghro searched through his bin for an old needle to use on his six-year-old son, later diagnosed as HIV-positive. When Mr Jalbani protested, the doctor said the father was too poor to pay for a new needle.
Four of Mr Jalbani’s children have since tested positive for the virus and the two youngest have died.
Another parent whose three children contracted the disease after being treated by Dr Ganghro told Reuters the paediatrician “applied the same drip on 50 children without changing the needle”.
Dr Ganghro has not yet been convicted, and despite laws to deny bail to those accused of reusing syringes, is now working as a GP at a public hospital on the city’s outskirts after renewing his medical certificate.
He has denied all accusations and insists he is innocent.