A doctor has been arrested in Pakistan accused of infecting 437 children with HIV.
Police are attempting to find out if Muzaffar Ghangharo, who has Aids, knowingly spread the virus.
In total more than 500 people have been infected in the deprived district of Larkana, in southern Pakistan.
The vast majority are children, who may have caught the virus after being treated with unsterilised syringes.
Four children have died and there are fears the number of positive cases will grow as more patients come forward to be tested.
Imran Akbar, a doctor in the city of Ratodero who is now treating some of the infected children, said: ‘The cases are just the tip of the iceberg.’
Dr Akbar said most of the doctors in remote parts of Pakistan were untrained and many practiced folk medicine.
He added that disease were often spread through the reuse of syringes, the piercing of noses and ears and unsafe sex.
The case against Ghangharo emerged when ten families accused him of infecting their children.
He has told police that ‘he didn’t do anything intentionally’ and will appear in court on Tuesday.
Ghangharo’s medical qualifications are unknown. Fatima Emaan was the first child to be diagnosed with HIV after coming down with a fever.
The 16-month-old is now being treated by Dr Akbar and her condition is said to be stabilising.
Her father Syed Shah took to social media to highlight the appalling health facilities in the district of Larkana. He said:
‘They double and triple checked and told us that Fatima is suffering from HIV. ‘But initially doctors failed to treat her in the right way.
‘Health facilities here are pathetic. You can see all equipment such as cannulas and syringes are mixed. ‘And doctors don’t go for oral treatment, they use injections even for minor treatment.’
Another child who may have been infected by Ghangharo is Ali Raza, ten, who was diagnosed after coming down with a fever.
His mother Rehmana said: ‘We were in great pain the day we heard about our son testing HIV positive.’
The rest of the family tested negative and they are now having sleepless nights worrying about Ali. After the case of Ghangharo emerged, officials screened 13,800 people.
Sikandar Memon, head of the AIDS Control Program in Sindh province, said 437 children and 100 adults tested positive for HIV in Larkana.
Nationwide, Pakistan’s Health Ministry has registered over 23,000 HIV cases. Share this article via facebook Share this article via twitter