ALMATY, Kazakhstan Twenty-one doctors and health officials have been charged with criminal offenses that caused an HIV outbreak in southern Kazakhstan, the chief prosecutor’s office said Tuesday, Jan. 9.
Blood transfusions from unchecked donors or contaminated needles have been blamed for the infections among 84 children, most of them under the age of three. Some 12 mothers also have tested positive for HIV since the first child cases were registered in the city of Shymkent last summer.
Seven children have already died of AIDS-related diseases, while a heart condition caused the death of an eighth, officials said.
The Chief Prosecutor’s office said in a statement that it had completed its investigations and charged 21 doctors and health officials with negligence. Some of them were also charged with bribery, extortion and theft of state funds, it said.
All cases have been transferred to court, the statement said.
Authorities have checked thousands of children who were feared to have contracted HIV at hospitals in Shymkent, some 990 miles south of the capital, Astana.
The Central Asian nation has been shocked by the outbreak, and subsequent nationwide inspections have revealed numerous cases of incompetence and corruption among doctors and nurses.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, January 12, 2006.