Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 14 July 2020

Hundreds accuse Iranian health workers of infecting them with HIV

Residents of a village in western Iran say contaminated needles were used during diabetes tests

Saudi Araiba only has one long-term care bed per 130,000 people. Getty Images
Saudi Araiba only has one long-term care bed per 130,000 people. Getty Images

Over 300 people have accused Iranian medical workers of infecting them with HIV, Iranian media reported.

Residents of Lordegan, Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari in western Iran said health centres used contaminated syringes during a widespread test for diabetes two months ago, infecting both adults and children.

“The health ministry came to our village for free blood sugar and insulin tests,” a resident of Chenar Mahmoud in Lordegan city told Iran Human Rights Monitor.

“The syringes they employed had already been used and were infected with the virus. Anyone who was tested became infected with an unknown virus. Some people say it’s HIV. Some say it’s a similar virus. Now, after a few weeks, they’ve brought in a doctor from Tehran to test the residents and figure out which virus it is.”

Frustrations boiled over on Saturday as residents stormed the offices of a representative of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Friday Prayer Office.

Footage shared on social media, but not verified, showed protesters chanting anti-government slogans.

Security forces later intervened using tear gas to halt the protests.

In a letter on Sunday, Iranian MPs demanded a "comprehensive report" on Saturday's clashes.

Provincial Governor Eqbal Abbasi told state TV shots had also been fired, although he did not specify by whom.

The Lordegan area, about 655 kilometres south of Tehran, is home to the Bakhtiari tribe who traditionally carry hunting rifles.

Several people were wounded and an unspecified number of people detained.

Iranian officials denied that the spread of the disease was due toto poor hygiene at local health centres.

Instead, the health minister said, “the source of the HIV outbreak was contaminated syringes used by drug addicts", as well as people who have "unacceptable relations".

Saeed Namaki added the government would treat people with HIV for free.

Updated: October 6, 2019 06:06 PM

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