Bhutto's ancestral land seeing worrying rise in AIDS cases

Bhutto's ancestral land seeing worrying rise in AIDS cases

Larkana, the ancestral home of the Bhutto family in rural Sindh has become one of Pakistan's biggest flashpoint for AIDS as 113 new cases were registered during the first two months of this year, NGO sources said.

Of the 113 new patients, a majority of them are young boys, women and children, and the total number of AIDS patients registered at the clinic being run at Chandka Medical College Hospital, Larkana, has risen to 518, according to local NGO sources.

"The increase in the number of cases this year is alarming. The unregistered and unknown cases are unaccounted for and that is also a alarming situation," said to a doctor who didn't want to be named.

Sources in NGOs working in this sector claimed that the government's AIDS control program has not fulfilled its purpose and as many as 20 patients have died in the last couple of months.

Sources say that Larkana is second to only Karachi in the registration of AIDS cases and the numbers are ever increasing.

"The reason for this is that Larkana, a major trucking route and a political hub, confirms the fact that locations with greater population movement contribute to the transmission of infectious diseases," one source said.

These rest houses (musafir khanas) and hotels virtually operate as brothels and no one is willing to take action since they operate under the patronage of influential and powerful people, a source said.

Larkana is replete with Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) who reuse and share syringes and needles. It was in Larkana that the first outbreak of HIV among IDUs was reported in 2003.

In some cases doctors have found that AIDS patients  have infected others as an act of revenge, frustrated with their own condition.

The sections of population most at risk include IDUs, commercial sex workers, children born to infected parent(s), runaway and street children, truck drivers, prisoners and migrant workers.

According to the requirements, all AIDS patients should attend the clinic once a month for counselling, but these facilities are not being provided at the hospital.
Most of the AIDS patients feel that no one does anything for their welfare.