A fake doctor treating poor villagers in northern India for colds, coughs and diarrhea has infected at least 21 of them with HIV by using contaminated syringes and needles, a health official said Tuesday. Sushil Choudhury, the official, said police were looking for Rajendra Yadav, who fled Bangarmau, a small town in Uttar Pradesh state, after the HIV infections were detected in December last year.  The villagers said they rarely saw Yadav changing the needles. Choudhury said that probably led to the spread of HIV.

With India’s healthcare system facing a massive shortage of doctors and hospitals, millions of poor people seek fake doctors for cheap treatment. India had 2.1 million people living with HIV at the end of 2016, according to a UNAIDS report. Of those, 9,100 were children under age 15. India has registered a 20 percent annual decline in new infections over the past few years, according to the report. READ MORE