Fright in Pakistani City After 900 Children Test Positive for H.I.V.
Health workers say the reuse of syringes drove the outbreak in the city of Ratodero.
By Zia ur-Rehman and Maria Abi-Habib
RATODERO, Pakistan — Nearly 900 children in the small Pakistani city of Ratodero were bedridden early this year with raging fevers that resisted treatment. Parents were frantic, with everyone seeming to know a family with a sick child.
In April, the disease was pinned down, and the diagnosis was devastating: The city was the epicenter of an H.I.V. outbreak that overwhelmingly affected children. Health officials initially blamed the outbreak on a single pediatrician, saying he was reusing syringes.
Since then, about 1,100 citizens have tested positive for the virus, or one in every 200 residents. Almost 900 are younger than 12. Health officials believe the real numbers are probably much higher, as only a fraction of the population has been tested so far.
Gulbahar Sheikh, the local journalist who broke the news of the epidemic to residents of his city and the nation in April, watched as his neighbors and relatives rushed to clinics to line up and test for the virus.