For a while, little Sarah, only 16 months old, was hit by a particularly unpleasant fight with high fever.
Several doctors had tried to help her and failed. Iman's mother, who encrypted from one doctor to another in a desperate attempt to save her child, found herself at the door of Dr. Imran Akbar's Clinic on February 22 in Ratodero.
"They had done almost all the tests, including malaria and typhoid," said Dr. Imran. "She also had a chest infection, so I called them to have her tested for HIV. When the report came back from the local test facility, she turned out to be HIV positive. To confirm the result, I sent her to Aga Khan University Hospital where the results were similar. "
For Dr. Imran, it was a shocking discovery. "Not only because of how young she was, but also because none of her parents had HIV," he said. "Normally, vertical transmission from mother to daughter occurs, but in this the father and mother were negative, but the daughter was positive."
Something wasn't right about that, and dr. Imran had an unpleasant sensation as Sarah's strange case might not be one. "I started advising HIV tests for all the babies who came to my clinic every day," said Imran, gesture with his writing hand.
Fifteen days, 20 HIV positive patients. All children. Sarah was not an outlier.
"Dr. Ghulam from the Sindh Aids Control Program came to me the next day and told me he did not recognize my reports and throw them aside," said Dr. Imran.
"I informed him that he may be in doubt about my reports, but he cannot just reject them and that the Sindh government should get these children to test themselves with their own kits."
Saeed Ahmed Awan noted and government camps were set up.
Different sets produced the same results.
"I have now identified a total of 85 children myself," he said. "There have been more than 600 cases in the government camp. If we add them together, the figure crosses 700."
And Dr. Imran is confident that this figure is only a very small part of the total number of HIV cases in the region.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg that I have revealed," he said with an extra emphasis on "I". "The real number I fear is in the thousands rather than hundreds. I hope I'm wrong."
What happens to the children who haven't been diagnosed with HIV then? "The virus is converted to AIDS," said Dr Imran. "If their CD4 cell count falls, the virus turns into AIDS."
The children and babies who have been diagnosed with HIV also have a difficult life ahead of them. "They can't miss a day's medicine. You know how to take an antibiotic course, hold on to it until the course ends. This is the same, but it's not an end you have to take as long as you live. "
The recoveries do not end there. With a lack of education, HIV patients have been shown to be cut off not only by friends and peers but also by families. What impact will it have on their mental health? "Depressed," Dr said. Imran, shaking his head. "They will grow up depressed."
Government, dr. Imran feels, has knocked down the people by not helping raise awareness. "World AIDS Day is observed on December 1," he said. "I have been trying to raise awareness of the problem for the last 15 years on that day, but I have never seen that even a single official has done anything in this respect. SACP was formed 24 years ago. They have existed since 1995, Why don't they inform people about how HIV spreads? More information has been spread over the last 20 days than it had been in the previous 25 years. "
It cannot be long before the country's collective conscience moves from these children , whether their numbers are hundreds or thousands, but for them there is no further movement from this. These children, most of whom are too young to speak, let alone understand what is happening to them, have been given an irrevocable life sentence.
And this, as Dr. Imran warns is just the tip of the iceberg.
Names have been changed to protect identity.