USAID To Review Study Claims That Unsafe Medical Practices Is Main Cause of HIV Transmission in Africa
The U.S. Agency for International Development yesterday said that it plans this week to begin a review of research published in the International Journal of STD & AIDS that claims that unsafe medical practices, not heterosexual sex, is the main cause of HIV transmission in Africa, the Washington Times reports (Carter, Washington Times, 3/5). While most AIDS organizations contend that heterosexual contact has accounted for 90% of HIV cases in Africa, the studies state that only one-third of HIV cases have been transmitted in this manner, while unsafe medical practices, such as injections and blood transfusions using unsterile needles, have proved to be a much greater risk (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/21). "It is possible that we have underestimated" the number of people infected through unsafe medical practices, Dr. Anne Peterson, head of the USAID bureau of global health, said, adding, "We plan to take a pretty hard look at this." The World Health Organization and UNAIDS have scheduled a meeting in Geneva for March 17 to discuss the research and its potential impact on HIV prevention programs. Peterson said that USAID would send a representative to the meeting. Peterson said that it was her "goal to designate AIDS prevention funds to the areas that scientific data indicates would be the most effective," according to the Times. She added that the agency has "always been concerned about needles as a route of transmission," citing the agency's research on disposable and "autodestruct" needles (Washington Times, 3/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.