March 30, 2023
Economy Pakistan

HIV Epidemic Sweeps Southern Province of Sindh Amidst Economic Crisis

HIV Epidemic Sweeps Southern Province of Sindh Amidst Economic Crisis

In the midst of the ongoing economic crisis in Pakistan, the southern province of Sindh is facing a new crisis – an HIV epidemic among its children. According to government officials, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is spreading rapidly in four districts, with dozens of adults and children testing positive for HIV every week.

The districts of Larkana, Jacobabad, Qambar Shahdadkot, and Shikarpur have been grappling with this issue since 2019, and poor Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) practices have been identified as a contributing factor. Medical quacks who disregard IPC guidelines have been blamed for the outbreak.

Over the last four years, more than 60% of HIV cases in these districts have been recorded within the general population, while the remaining 40% of cases have been recorded among vulnerable groups such as injectable drug users, transgender males, men having sex with men, and female sex workers.

The situation is particularly dire in Ratodero tehsil of Sindh’s Larkana district, where hundreds of children were diagnosed with HIV in 2019, resulting in the world’s largest HIV outbreak among children. Since then, around 2,800 children have tested positive for HIV in Ratodero and adjacent regions.

To address the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne infections, government officials are calling for the formation of an IPC unit and action against quacks who disregard IPC regulations. They are also urging the implementation of IPC regulations throughout the province of Sindh.

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