Police in India arrested an unqualified medical practitioner Wednesday, who was accused of infecting at least 46 people with HIV by using a tainted needle while treating them, in the country’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Police in Uttar Pradesh tracked down the suspect Rajendra Yadav, who provided cheap door-to-door medical services to poor villagers, after a criminal case was filed against him over the spread of the infection in the northern state’s Unnao district.

"Yesterday we tracked down prime accused Rajendra Yadav from the house of a relative, where he was hiding," Amit Kumar Singh, a police officer in Unnao said.

"He was arrested on a tip-off and is being questioned about his role in the case," the Unnao police chief, Pushpanjali Devi, told AFP as cited by the Guardian.

Yadav was charged initially with impersonation and endangering human lives, the officer said. Medical instruments that were recovered from the fake doctor’s possession were sent for forensic tests. Yadav reportedly used a single syringe to administer injections to patients in Bangarmau town of Unnao district.

"After we found that a large number of cases were being reported from this area, a screening camp was held, in which 566 persons were examined. Thirty-eight persons were found reactive, while 21 were found positive," Unnao Chief Medical Officer S.P. Choudhary said.

But Choudhary also stated that the high number of cases in the area was unlikely to be down to Yadav alone.

"The area has a high migrant trucker population, and the prevalence of unprotected sex could be the likely reason."

Police Inspector Arun Pratap Singh told the News Minute that during investigation, Yadav stated he had earlier served as a compounder with a doctor and thus acquired some knowledge about medicines while his stint there.

Later, he reportedly started medical practice on his own. As he offered cheap medical services, patients crowded at his makeshift clinic, inspector Singh said.

"He would stay there for two-three hours. For Rs.10, he would provide both medicine and injections to the patients. People flocked to him in large numbers. After speaking to the HIV-affected persons, the investigating team also found that they had received treatment from the same place," said P.K. Dohre, medical superintendent of a local community health center.

According to the United Nations, India has 2.1 million people infected with the infection, however the rate of the infection has been falling. The country has approximately 840,000 doctors, which sums up to one for every 1,674 people, which is far fewer than the one person per 1,000 people as recommended by the World Health Organization.

After the arrest, Area councilor Sunil Bangarmau said if proper tests are conducted in the area, at least 500 cases of HIV would come up.

"40 positive cases have been found. If proper tests are done, at least 500 cases would come up. It is being told that the people here used to go to a quack for treatment of diseases. He used a single syringe on all of them," Bangarmau said.

hiv test A nurse takes blood from a man who got a free HIV test on a bus in Tehran, Dec. 16, 2015. Photo: REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/TIMA