NPR

Medical Investigation: How Did 494 Children in One Pakistani City Get HIV?

In late April, a tragedy began to unfold in Larkana. First one, then 15, now hundreds of youngsters have been found to be HIV positive. Who is responsible?
In Larkana, Pakistan, on May 9, 2019, a paramedic takes a blood sample from a baby for a HIV test. The government is offering screenings in the wake of an HIV outbreak. Source: Rizwan Tabassum

This spring, a number of parents in Ratodero, a poor neighborhood in the city of Larkana in southern Pakistan, were worried about their children.

Their kids had been running a fever for a while. Their parents had been taking them to a clinic run by Dr. Muzaffar Ghangharo, a pediatrician. But the youngsters weren't responding to treatments to bring down the fever.

In late April, some of the parents wanted another opinion. So they took their children to a different medical center in Larkana, where they were seen by Dr. Imran Arbani.

Because a long-running fever is one of the symptoms of HIV, Dr. Arbani suggested testing the children for the virus as a precaution.

The results were devastating. On April 24, the first test results came in: One of the children was HIV positive. There were 14 more positive test results, according, the province's deputy commissioner, and published on May 20.

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