Police Hunting Fake Doctor Who Infected Dozens With HIV-Tainted Syringes In India

Indian authorities are looking for the fake doctor who has infected dozens of people with HIV-tainted syringes in the country's north.

The fake doctor fled Bangarmau city, Uttar Pradesh state, after his treatments for colds, coughs and diarrhea were linked to a sudden spur of HIV cases in the area in December.

HIV—or the human immunodeficiency virus—weakens the immune system and its ability to fight infections and diseases. It is transmitted though body fluids, including blood, semen and breast milk. Sharing needles and syringes could lead to the transmission of the infection.

Villagers said the suspect, identified as Rajendra Yadav, rarely changed needles when treating patients.

The fake doctor visited villagers with his bike and treated them outdoors. He would give injections in exchange for payments.

"An investigation showed that almost all of them had taken injections from one person," health official Sushil Choudhury told AP.

"This was an important lead. We set up special medical camps in villages in the area and checked 566 people, and 21 were found to be HIV positive."

Villagers said the suspect, identified as Rajendra Yadav, rarely changed needles when treating patients. Leon Neal/Getty Images

Officials told news agency ANI that the number of cases had already hit 40.

"Forty [HIV] positive cases have been found. If proper tests are done, at least 500 cases would come up," Sunil Bangarmau, an area councillor, said.

"It is being told that the people here used to go to a quack for treatment of diseases. He used a single syringe on all of them."

Health officials have now set up camps to curtail the spread of HIV.

Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh has assured that culprits will be brought to justice.

"It is being investigated. Action will be taken against the culprits and those who practice medicine without the license," Singh said.

"Since it's a transit point, HIV carriers are likely to come there. So we're mapping truck drivers who come there and offer treatment to them."

There is currently no cure for HIV.

The virus can develop into AIDS, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, which denotes a number of life-threatening infections and diseases that can affect people once their immune system has been weakened by HIV. AIDS cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

There were 2.1 million people living with HIV in India in 2016, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Of these, about 49% had access to therapy. The same year, the country recorded 80,000 new HIV infections and 62,000 AIDS-related deaths.