WHO Begins Surveying Afghan Population, Testing Blood for HIV
The World Health Organization said yesterday that it plans to survey the level of HIV/AIDS and STDs among the Afghan population and encourage testing of blood before transfusions, the Associated Press reports. Results of the survey will enable health officials to craft a "plan of action" for disease control in the country. "[L]ittle information" is known about the number of cases of HIV/AIDS in Afghanistan and the neighboring refugee camps, WHO said, adding that only 10 cases of HIV/AIDS in Afghanistan have ever been reported. Although the number of reported HIV infections is "limited," health officials "recognize the need to start early in developing activities to contain AIDS because of the rapid speed in which the disease multiplies," WHO said. A "key elemen[t]" of the national plan will be to make sure blood used for transfusions is free of bloodborne infections, such as HIV and hepatitis. WHO has sent 18 HIV testing kits with trained technicians to Afghanistan to begin testing blood. "[J]ust over half" of the Afghan hospitals that perform surgery test blood. According to WHO, its goal is to have all 44 surgical facilities in Afghanistan testing blood by the end of 2002 (Associated Press, 2/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.