Surfacing of 140 HIV positive cases early this year in Hyderabad area goes unnoticed

Published May 3, 2019
PPHI source says around 200 cases found over the past year, from newborns to elderly people. ─ Reuters/File
PPHI source says around 200 cases found over the past year, from newborns to elderly people. ─ Reuters/File

HYDERABAD: A huge number of 140 confirmed HIV positive cases, 73 of which surfaced during January-March period this year, have been reported in Hatri area of Hyderabad over the past year during blood screening by Peoples Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI) but the provincial authorities seem not to have taken the issue seriously.

The affected areas are located in union councils of Massu Bhurgari and Hatri of Hyderabad (rural) taluka. Villages where the cases were found during screening were located off National Highway among age groups ranging from one-month-old to 61-year-old man. Some women are also suffering from the deadly disease, according to sources in PPHI.

A source said that the number of HIV cases was more than 140 and such data was available with PPHI which was communicated to Sindh health authorities from time to time.

The villages, according to PPHI data, are Gul Sher Brohi, Umer Palari, Zaheer Barch, Chalgri Mari, Tando Saeed Khan, Goth Soomar Mirjat, Goth Mevo Hajano, Goth Mitho Hajano, Akhund Fazal Siddiqui, Wanki Wasi and others.

“In initial screening carried out in April last year, 128 suspected cases were screened and of them 30 were found to be HIV positive,” said the PPHI sources.

The screening began after Dr Rizwan Marri, who had come from Saudi Arabia, suspected two cases in the area and reported them to the authorities concerned. From April to December 2018, the number of HIV positive cases rose to 58 during screening and laboratory tests later confirmed them, said the sources.

“Then in the first three months (January-March 2019) the number of confirmed cases has come to 140 so far,” they said. All the figures had been shared with Sindh health authorities including Sindh AIDS Control Programme but the authorities were perhaps not taking the data seriously, said the sources.

Names of patients with their villages were also maintained in the record. Male and female sex workers as well as transgenders, drug pushers and truck drivers are considered high-risk population for HIV. Chances of more cases could not be ruled out, said the sources.

A PPHI source said that around 200 cases had been found over the past year. Even newborns were found to be HIV cases as per record which indicated that the virus had transmitted to babies from their parents. “In some cases, patients have died as well,” they said.

The sources clarified that the tests were conducted through rapid diagnostic test (RDT) kit and added that almost all basic health units were managed by PPHI in Sindh under an agreement with the government. Diagnostic and Research Laboratory (DRL) of Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS) head Dr Ikram Ujjan said that the DRL could carry out HIV tests with the help of modern techniques which were normally accepted like Elisa and PCR.

“We have all required equipment and we can assist Sindh AIDS Control Programme. They just need to use the lab’s kits and we will provide them confirmed findings of HIV cases,” he said.

Larkana district has been in the headlines since April 24 for surfacing of a large number of HIV positive cases. According to figures of the health department, 93 cases including 74 children and 19 adults have so far been found HIV positive after screening exercise since April 24. About 2,796 people had been screened so far, said the sources.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2019

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