AP/Houston Chronicle Examines HIV Outbreak Among 72 Children, 16 Mothers in Kyrgyzstan
An HIV outbreak among 72 children and 16 mothers at two hospitals in Kyrgyzstan has led to charges of negligence against 14 medical workers, who are believed to have accidentally infected the children through tainted blood and used needles, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports (Saralayeva, AP/Houston Chronicle, 4/9).
Four Kyrgyz physicians were fired in July 2007 for accidentally infecting 10 children and one adult with HIV. Ministry of Health officials said the children and the adult contracted HIV while receiving injections and blood transfusions but gave no other details (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/1/07). Hundreds of children have been tested since the outbreak was first discovered in July. Health Minister Marat Mambetov on Tuesday said the infections have been contained.
According to the AP/Chronicle, some of the mothers contracted the virus through breastfeeding their children. HIV/AIDS experts said that although HIV transmission from infants to mothers during breastfeeding is rare, it is possible when the infant has mouth sores and the woman has lesions on her breasts.
The HIV-positive children are receiving antiretroviral drugs at no cost through the government, but their mothers are not eligible for no-cost antiretrovirals if they are in the early stages of the disease, Erkin Bakiyev, director of the country's national AIDS center, said. The children also are receiving monthly payments of $23 from the government.
The nongovernmental organization Rainbow has begun to provide no-cost legal assistance to some of the HIV-positive women to help them obtain medication and other support services. Fatima Khabibullina, a lawyer at Rainbow, said that some of the women's husbands have left them since learning of their HIV-positive status. Rainbow Director Fatima Koshokova said, "These women are having huge financial difficulties," adding, "They should be getting nutritious food, but they are not able to get jobs or to provide decent food for themselves or their children" (AP/Houston Chronicle, 4/9).