Up to 15% of 260 people diagnosed with HIV every month in Sindh are children

Numbers quoted by health department officials highlight alarming situation in Sindh

By |
Representational image of a woman pinning HIV awarness ribbon on a child's sleeve. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: At least 260 people are diagnosed with HIV each month in Sindh while 10% to 15% of these cases are children, officials said, highlighting an alarming situation in the province. 

The cases are reported especially in Larkana and its surrounding districts, Hyderabad, Mirpur Khas, and Karachi as well. 

“So far, 1,304 new HIV cases have been detected in the first five months of 2024. On average, 260 new HIV cases are being identified in the province monthly,” an official of the Sindh health department told this correspondent.

The children diagnosed with the deadly disease are under the age of 12. 

Officials said the reuse of syringes and IV drips by unqualified practitioners, quacks, poor infection prevention and control, tainted blood, and mother-to-child transmission are major factors behind HIV transmission among children in Sindh, The News reported. 

As per the report, the latest HIV outbreak has been reported from the Mirpur Khas district, where 20 children were found infected with the virus over the past six months during screenings at a nutrition stabilisation center at Civil Hospital Mirpur Khas.

According to data from the Sindh health department and the Common Management Unit (CMU) for AIDS, TB, and Malaria in Islamabad, the highest number of new HIV cases in Sindh were detected in May 2024, with 293 people diagnosed with the virus.

“In January and February 2024, 257 people, including children, were diagnosed with HIV each month. In March, 258 new HIV cases were detected, followed by 239 cases in April, and 293 cases in May,” the health department official detailed.

Regarding the recent HIV cases among children in Mirpur Khas, the official emphasised that this was 'just a fraction' of the new cases being reported in Sindh. 

Of the 260 new HIV cases emerging each month, 50-60 are children, he claimed.

Commenting on the HIV situation in Mirpur Khas district, Deputy Director General of Communicable Disease Control (CDC) of the Sindh Health Department, Dr Zulfiqar Dharejo confirmed that 20 children had been found infected in the entire district from January to June 2024. 

Two of these children had died, while the remaining 18 were receiving ART treatment, he added.