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Kazakh Minister, Governor Sacked Over HIV Outbreak

(RFE/RL) September 20, 2006 -- Reports from Kazakhstan say Health Minister Yerbolat Dosaev has been removed from office after the discovery that 56 patients have been infected with HIV.

Fifty-five children and one adult have been tested HIV-positive in southern Kazakhstan since May. At least four infants are reported to have died of AIDS.

Health officials believe the children were infected either by the use of unsterilized syringes, or by the transfusion of contaminated blood.

The governor of the Southern Kazakhstan region, Bolat Jylkyshiev, has also been sacked.

The deputy head of Kazakhstan's National Security Council, Nurlan Abdirov, said the two officials had been guilty of "serious" negligence.

Abdirov also said President Nursultan Nazarbaev will personally oversee the ongoing investigation into the outbreak.

Also on September 20, Nazarbaev gave his government three months to draft a new national program to stem the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country.

The Kazakh president also vowed to make Astana, the country's capital, a narcotics-free city.

Figures released on September 14 by the Kazakh State Statistics Agency show that, in mid-2006, Kazakhstan had nearly 6,500 HIV-carriers and 400 people with AIDS.

Kazakhstan has a population of 15.3 million.

(Kazakhstan Today, Interfax-Kazakhstan, Kazinform,

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