Police suspect that a fake doctor has infected hundreds of villagers with HIV by using a single syringe to administer injections while treating them for the common cold. 21 villagers have tested HIV positive so far. Authorities fear the number could increase once all villagers are properly screened.
New Delhi (Sputnik) — The villagers of Unnao, in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh, are reportedly having sleepless nights after a compulsory screening drive launched by the local administration have found most of them infected with HIV. The screening drive is being conducted after authorities came to know that a quack had injected them with a common syringe that could have strains of an HIV positive person’s blood.
The administration grew suspicious after they recorded a sudden spike in the number of HIV cases in a particular area of Unnao district. A two-member medical committee was formed to probe the case. Upon investigation, the committee came to know that all the reported cases of HIV had a common thread. They had all been treated by a particular quack, who is now in police custody and faces criminal charges.
Sidharth Nath Singh, health minister of Uttar Pradesh told media, “A quack was giving the injection to the people. We are investigating the matter and accused will be arrested soon as he has been identified. The persons who were found to be infected are being treated at Kanpur Medical College.”
“Apart from the villagers, there could also be truck drivers who got infected as Unnao is one of the transit points where they dislodge during long-distance trips,” the minister added.
The transmission of HIV through infected syringes, especially among drug users, has been on the increase, despite efforts by the Indian government to control such cases. According to Indian health ministry data, in 2014-15, the country recorded 3,518 cases of HIV infections due to needles, which rose to 4,011 in 2016-17.
At present, India has an estimated 2.1 million people living with HIV. To improve detection, the government has started community-based testing for “at risk” populations and universal coverage of pregnant women for HIV testing.