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Health Workers Sentenced to Prison in Kazakhstan for Criminal Negligence After HIV Outbreak Among Women, Children

January 2, 2008

Three health workers in Kazygurt, Kazakhstan, recently were sentenced to prison after being convicted of criminal negligence following an HIV outbreak among a group of children who received blood transfusions in region hospitals, Interfax News Agency reports. According to the Kazakh AIDS Center, 143 children who received blood transfusions in hospitals in the country have tested positive for HIV as of Dec. 1.

According to Interfax News Agency, Alimzhan Atambekov, former chief physician at the Kazygurt Central District Hospital, and his assistant Svetlana Nurkhanova were sentenced to two years in prison camps. The former head of the hospital's department of intensive therapy, Balgabay Tuzelbayev, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. In addition, the three medical workers have been banned from holding posts in the health care system.

Judge Serikbay Tolepbergenov, who presided over the case, said, "The rules of the sterilization of medical equipment were blatantly violated in the central district hospital" and "blood transfusions without preliminary HIV tests were registered." He added, "The suspects have not recognized their guilt, yet the court considers the evidence to be incontestable" (Interfax News Agency, 12/25/07).

In a related case, 17 health workers and health officials in Shymkent, Kazakhstan, in June were sentenced to prison after being convicted of criminal negligence following an HIV outbreak. A medical investigation conducted by CDC identified transfusions of tainted blood as the source of the Shymkent HIV outbreak (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/18/07).

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