Children under five most affected by HIV outbreak in Ratodero: report

Published May 18, 2019
The report suggests immediate action against quackery, including unauthorised laboratories and blood banks. — Reuters/File
The report suggests immediate action against quackery, including unauthorised laboratories and blood banks. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: The most affected age group in the 534 HIV positive cases reported so far in Ratodero, Larkana, is 2-5 years, followed by age group 6-15 years. Female children contracted the infection more. The youngest in the outbreak is less than a month old baby while the oldest age recorded is 70 years.

These findings are part of a preliminary report submitted by a Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (FELTP) team to the directorate general of health services of Sindh (DGHSS), Hyderabad, on Friday.

The report suggests immediate action against quackery, including unauthorised laboratories and blood banks.

According to the report, a total of 14,810 individuals were screened from April 25 to May 16 and the number of HIV positive cases was found to be 534. Of them, 49.4 per cent were male and 50.6pc were female.

The age group distribution among the reported HIV infection cases revealed that the most affected age group was 2-5 years (55.05pc) followed by age group 6-15 years (18.7pc), age group 15-45 years (16.4pc) and age group 46 and above (2.4pc) respectively.

“All cases were positive on rapid diagnostic test by Sindh AIDS Control Programme (SACP),” the report says.

Highlighting actions taken by the government so far, the report notes that SACP established a screening camp at the Taluka Headquarters Hospital, Ratodero, and that an HIV/AIDS treatment centre was set up at the Shaikh Zayed Children Hospital Larkana.

“Unauthorised laboratories, blood banks and clinics have been closed by the health department and the [Sindh] Healthcare Commission with the support of district administration,” it says.

The report suggests more HIV screening camps at the THQ hospital Ratodero to identify hidden cases among all age groups; campaigns to create awareness of the spread and transmission of HIV/AIDS and screening of all high-risk groups, parents of affected children and their close contacts in the family.

It also calls for case management and follow-up of identified cases through SACP and developing communication and coordination between district health authority and HIV programme.

“Adult group above 15 years should also be focused in screening to determine underlying burden of HIV in Ratodero.

“Further face to face interviews are being conducted in which cases and controls would be taken for identification of infection sources. Risk factor analysis investigation is ongoing and further details would be furnished once this study is completed,” the report says.

The FELTP team was deputed by the DGHSS to assess the magnitude and determinants of HIV/AIDS infection, explore the additional contacts and sites of potential transmission of HIV infection and formulate appropriate effective recommendations to interrupt the HIV transmission.

The FELTP, supported by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, US, is working with the provincial government to strengthen surveillance of diseases and response to outbreaks.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2019

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