Doctors in Kazakhstan Convicted for Criminal Negligence Following HIV Outbreak Among Children Who Received Blood Transfusions
Seventeen health workers in Shymkent, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday were sentenced to prison after being convicted of criminal negligence following an HIV outbreak among a group of children who received blood transfusions at their hospital, Reuters reports (Reuters, 6/27). Since the summer of 2006, 118 children who received blood transfusions at the hospital have tested positive for HIV. Ten of the children have died from AIDS-related illnesses (Golovnina, Reuters, 6/27).
Twenty-one health workers and health officials in Shymkent were put on trial for medical malpractice following the HIV outbreak. A medical investigation conducted by CDC identified transfusions of tainted blood as the source of the Shymkent HIV outbreak. The parents of the HIV-positive children say that doctors charged them $20 for 14 ounces of blood and shared the profits with the local blood bank. Some of the doctors in Shymkent say their low wages force them to find ways of earning additional income, and a profit of up to $10 on each blood transfusion is a significant amount because doctors' salaries begin at $175 monthly.
"Salaries are very low, and even increases don't make a difference because of inflation," Amangeldy Shopaer -- deputy chief physician at the Shymkent Infectious Diseases Hospital, where all HIV-positive children have received treatment -- said. The children's families say government neglect has compounded their situation. In addition, many of the children's families have been forced to move after experiencing HIV/AIDS-related discrimination (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/20).
Judge Ziyadinkhan Pirniyaz, who presided over the case, gave suspended sentences to senior health official Nursulu Tasmagambetova and three others. The remaining defendants received jail sentences ranging from a few months to eight years, Reuters reports (Reuters, 6/27). Pirniyaz listed evidence of negligence, abuse of patients and theft of health funds. The attorneys for the children's parents said they will appeal the decision (Golovnina, Reuters, 6/27).