Senate Approves Amendment Requiring $75M of $15B Global AIDS Initiative Go Toward Curbing Unsafe Medical Practices
The Senate yesterday approved an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), to the foreign operations appropriations bill (S 1426) that would require at least $75 million of the $15 billion global AIDS initiative to go toward curbing unsafe medical practices, the AP/Orlando Sentinel reports (McMurray, AP/Orlando Sentinel, 10/28). Although most AIDS organizations say that heterosexual contact has accounted for the majority of HIV cases in Africa, new studies claim that unsafe medical practices, such as injections and blood transfusions using unsterile needles, are a much greater threat. The World Health Organization estimates that 90% of HIV-positive people in sub-Saharan Africa have been infected through sexual contact and 2.5% of HIV-positive people have contracted the virus through unsafe injections. However, three studies published in March in the International Journal of STD & AIDS by a team of eight researchers led by anthropologist David Gisselquist support a theory that unsafe medical practices are the primary route of HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa. The same team in May published a similar study in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. WHO in a December 2002 report said that its estimate regarding medical transmission may be "conservative" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/2). Under the amendment, at least $46 million would be spent on blood safety and $29 million would be spent on injection safety. Because a roll call vote was not taken on the amendment, it is "unclear" if senators voting for the measure were aware of exactly what the bill would do, according to the AP/Sentinel. The amendment could be challenged when the House and Senate conference to resolve differences in the foreign operations bill (AP/Orlando Sentinel, 10/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.