Iranians set imam’s office ablaze after accusations health workers infected hundreds with HIV

Iranians set imam’s office ablaze after accusations health workers infected hundreds with HIV
2 min read
07 October, 2019
Protesters angry at the revelations that poor healthcare practices may have led to 200 HIV infections in an Iranian village stormed and set fire to an imam's office.
Protests against the local authority turned violent on Saturday [Twitter]
Protesters in the central Iranian town of Lordegan stormed the office of the local imam on Saturday, setting it ablaze amid angry protests following accusations health workers had infected hundreds of people, including children, with HIV.

Demonstrations broke out earlier this week as protesters alleged poor healthcare practices had led to a spate of HIV infections in a nearby village.

Videos posted on social media showed smoke rising from buildings in Lornegan following the demonstrations.

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Dozens of Iranian MPs on Sunday demanded an investigation into the violent protests, which have been well documented on social media.

Angry demonstrators attacked the local governor's and health department's offices, accusing them of complicity in the infection of more than 200 people.

Health authorities deny the claims that contaminated syringes used at a local hospital spread the infection, saying instead the increase in HIV cases was the result of unsafe practices by drug addicts and in sexual relationships.

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

The Lordegan area is home to the Bakhtiari tribe who traditionally carry hunting rifles, according to The Associated Press.

Several people were wounded and an unspecified number of people detained as part of the protests.

Iranian activists have claimed on social media that more than 200 people, including a number of children, have been contracted HIV due to the use of unsterile syringes in a local hospital.

According to US-funded site Radio Farda, residents of the nearby village of Chenar Mahmoud said they had contracted the disease after their local health organisation used infected needles to test for diabetes two months ago.

Health authorities insist an increase in HIV cases had already been reported before the diabetes testing.

Rising levels of intravenous drug use in conjunction with a societal stigma around HIV and low levels of awareness of the virus's transmission have led to rising levels of infection in Iran.

Iran's HIV treatment and prevention initiatives suffered setbacks under former leader, conservative hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, under whose rule two of the country's leadeing AIDS doctors were arrested and the publication of AIDS awareness leaflets to students was banned.

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