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The World in Medicine
January 17, 2007

Libya Sentences Health Workers

JAMA. 2007;297(3):254. doi:10.1001/jama.297.3.254-b

A Palestinian physician and 5 Bulgarian nurses accused of deliberately infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV were sentenced to death by a Libyan court on December 19, despite evidence from an international team of scientists demonstrating that the medical workers were not to blame for the infections (de Oliveira T et al. Nature. 2006;444:836-837).

After analyzing genetic sequences of HIV and hepatitis C viruses isolated from some of the children to reconstruct the transmission history of the strains and determine when the outbreaks started, researchers from the United Kingdom and Italy were able to demonstrate that the strains of HIV found in the children were already circulating at the hospital and in the surrounding area in the mid-1990s, well before the medical workers' arrival in Libya in 1998.