Earlier reports said 14 people had contracted the deadly virus in a hospital in Kyrgyzstan's Osh region. The country's health minister, chief sanitary doctor, top AIDS doctor and other officials visited the region to investigate the incident.
"The Health Ministry delegation has just rounded off its visit to Osh," Toktogazy Kutukeyev, a senior Health Ministry official, said on the telephone. "We will be able to provide details when they return to Bishkek [the capital]."
In Osh, a major city in southern Kyrgyzstan, the delegates were already reported to have dismissed several members of the local health department and hospital officials for negligence and reprimanded several others. But an investigation into who was directly responsible for infecting the patients is continuing.
Registered cases of HIV/AIDs have been relatively low in the ex-Soviet state, but numbers are rapidly increasing. As of July 1, 1,233 HIV cases were reported in Kyrgyzstan, 70% of them being caused by intravenous drug use. The figure has risen more than fivefold since 2000, according to official statistics. Numbers of those infected as a result of sexual contact are increasing.
Prevention programs have been hampered by a lack of funding and a reluctance to provide information rooted in traditional attitudes and values.
A total of 79 children and eight mothers contracted the virus through blood transfusions and intravenous injections in neighboring Kazakhstan in the summer 2006. Eight children have since died.