The Ratodero police on Tuesday arrested a doctor — who they allege is an HIV patient — after he was accused of passing on the virus to his patients in Larkana.
The arrest was made after an official of the anti-quackery team, Dr Abdul Sami Rajpur, filed a complaint against the doctor last night. The suspect is a government employee and also runs a private clinic.
It wasn't immediately clear how the doctor may have transmitted the virus to the patients.
Also read: HIV cases
Police produced him before a local court today and sought his three-day physical remand which was granted by the judge.
The suspect rejected the allegation that he was responsible for spreading the virus. In a brief conversation with local reporters outside the court, he claimed that if he had known he was HIV-positive, he would have sought treatment for himself first.
Larkana Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Siddique Noman confirmed that a first information report (FIR) was registered with Dr Rajpur as the complainant. Confirming the suspect's subsequent arrest, he said a detailed report of the matter will be sent to senior officials for further investigation.
The in-charge of the Sindh Aids Control Programme, Dr Sikander Memon, said that a medical team will arrive in Ratodero next week to determine the causes of the spread of the virus among residents. A medical examination of the doctor will also be conducted.
The Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan (MMIDSP) weighed in on the case, saying that "the transmission of HIV from doctor to patient is impossible even if the former administers injections to the latter."
The medical society also noted that "it is against all ethics to disclose a person's HIV status to another person, let alone the media."
Panic gripped Larkana over the past few weeks after dozens of HIV-positive cases were reported across the district. Children as young as 16 months were among those diagnosed with the virus. Multiple teams of the Sindh Aids Control Programme arrived in Ratodero last week to carry out tests of people who were suspected to have been infected with HIV.
A list compiled by Sindh Health Services department, a copy of which is available with Dawn, confirmed that 29 people in Ratodero carry the HIV virus. Of the 29, five were parents.
Today, during a screening test carried out in Ratodero through kits, another 59 cases were suspected to be positive, Director General Health Services Dr Masood Solangi told Dawn.
Since the exercise which began on April 24, a total of 2,028 cases have been screened in medical camps set up in Taluka Hospital, Ratodero and Allah Bux Seelro village where an outbreak of the virus was reported.
The samples of suspected carriers will be sent to the National Institute of Health or Aga Khan University for confirmation through lab tests.
Twenty seven clinics of quacks have also been sealed by Sindh Healthcare Commission.