At least 46 people have become infected with HIV in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao tehsil in the last 10 months, allegedly after a quack used a common syringe to administer injection, prompting the state government to intensify its efforts to nab the culprit, an official said on Tuesday.
A case has been registered against the quack at Bangarmau police station, the Chief Medical Officer said.
"During a routine screening from April to July, 12 HIV positive cases were reported from Bangarmau tehsil alone. During another screening in November, another 13 cases were reported from the same place," CMO Dr S P Chaudhary said.
"After noticing the high number of cases, the health department constituted a two-member committee which visited various hamlets of Bangarmau to investigate the reasons behind the spurt," he said.
Dr Chaudhary said the team visited Premganj and Chakmirpur areas of Bangarmau and filed a report, based on which screening camps were held at three places on January 24, 25 and 27.
"In these camps, 566 people were examined, of whom 21 were found to be infected with HIV," the CMO said, adding in all 46 people were infected with the deadly virus.
He said the investigation revealed that the quack, Rajendra Kumar, living in a neighbouring village, had used a single syringe for injection in the name of cheaper treatment.
"This was the reason behind the significant rise in the number HIV cases," Dr Chaudhary said, adding the patients have been referred to Anti-retroviral Therapy centre in Kanpur.
ART consists of a combination of antiretroviral drugs to maximally suppress HIV and stop its progression. It also prevents onward transmission of HIV, he said.
State Health Minister Sidhartha Nath Singh told PTI, "It was because of the health camps that such cases came to our notice. Based on this, we are finding out what happened... A quack had started this, and police will soon catch him."
Unnao was in the news in December last year, when the district administration suspended the chief medical officer after reports surfaced that 32 cataract patients were operated upon in torch light for want of steady electricity supply at a state-run facility.
Taking serious note of the matter, the Uttar Pradesh government had then suspended CMO Rajendra Prasad and also removed the in-charge of Nawabganj community health centre.