“Quacks” blamed for HIV outbreak that infected hundreds of kids

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A man takes a blood sample from a child sitting in its mother's lap.

Enlarge / A Pakistani paramedic takes a blood sample from a baby for a HIV test at a state-run hospital in Rato Dero in the district of Larkana of the southern Sindh province on May 9, 2019. (credit: Getty | RIZWAN TABASSUM)

More than 600 people—most of them children, aged one month to 15 years—have tested positive for HIV in the southern Pakistani town of Ratto Dero, numerous news outlets have reported.

While officials are still investigating the cause of the outbreak, health workers say that rogue doctors and unqualified people practicing medicine are behind the virus’ spread, mostly from using contaminated syringes. Such medical charlatans are popular in the area because they’re often cheaper and more accessible than trained medical providers.

Of the 607 or so confirmed cases in the outbreak so far, 75 percent are in children, according to reporting from the BBC. Cases started appearing in February when parents brought their children to doctors and hospitals with unexplained fevers that lingered. Once word spread that ill children were testing positive for HIV, parents began rushing their kids to a special camp set up by the health department at a local hospital.

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