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Kazakhs Hospitalized After Treatment By Folk Healer

SHYMKENT, Kazakhstan -- At least four HIV-infected patients have been hospitalized after being treated by a folk healer in the southern Kazakh city of Shymkent, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Beyne Karzhaubaeva, a self-professed healer, has been treating HIV-infected patients by giving them injections of cologne. Karzhaubaeva asked her patients to sign a waiver acknowledging that they were willingly undergoing the treatment.

Zhanetta Zhazykbaeva, the head of the regional foundation Defense of Children Against AIDS, says the people treated by Karzhaubaeva barely survived. A 7-year-old girl who was treated by Karzhaubaeva was hospitalized with a blackened, swollen hand.

Charges have been filed with the local prosecutor's office against Karzhaubaeva for false treatment of patients.

Karzhaubaeva says she received permission from an AIDS center in Shymkent to use her treatment with the agreement of the patients, whom she did not charge. She added that she has a "gift from God" and is sure that her patients will be cured as a result of her treatment.

All of those treated and hospitalized were infected with HIV/AIDS during the mass HIV infection that took place at a southern Kazakh hospital in 2007. As a result, 17 hospital workers were sentenced to up to eight years in prison for infecting dozens of children with HIV. Several of the children have since died.