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WHO Looking Into Mass HIV Outbreak In Pakistan

A Pakistani woman holds her HIV infected child as they gather at a house at Wasayo village in Rato Dero in the district of Larkana of the southern Sindh Province on May 8.

A World Health Organization (WHO) team has begun investigating an HIV outbreak in an impoverished district of Sindh Province in southern Pakistan.

Sikandar Memom, director of the Sindh Province HIV/AIDS program, told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal on May 31 that the WHO team will be looking for the cause of the outbreak in the Ratho Dhero part of Laraka District, where hundreds of new HIV-positive cases – mostly children – have been discovered in the past few weeks.

Memon said his department had tested 25,000 people for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, since late April and found 725 infected people, including 590 children.

Larkana District Police Senior Superintendent Masood Bangash told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that the infections were most likely caused by reusing syringes.

He said one doctor had been arrested and charged with reusing syringes, adding that more doctors were likely involved in the outbreak.

Initial investigations indicated the infections were not intentional, Bangash said.